Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 3, Synchrony's Margaret Keane

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President and CEO, Synchrony Financial

Barely two years after President and CEO Margaret Keane guided Synchrony Financial through the stresses of becoming a fully independent company, Forbes named it one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2017. Then, after Hurricane Maria, Synchrony showed why it belonged on the list.

In September of last year, after the storm pummeled Puerto Rico, hundreds of Synchrony employees and their families living on the island faced devastating losses. Homes were destroyed, food, power and safe drinking water were scarce and the island’s future suddenly became very uncertain.

Keane decided that even if her employees on the island could rely on little else, they should be able to count on Synchrony to look out for them. Keane arranged for the Stamford, Conn., company’s offices to remain open, providing free meals, power, water and air conditioning to those in need.

The bank issued hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to employees who had lost everything, and Keane made sure that paychecks kept coming, even to employees who were unable to work in the aftermath of the storm.

Back in the U.S., Synchrony employees created a giant Amazon wish list for their colleagues in Puerto Rico, placing thousands of orders in the space of only a few days.

One of Keane’s objectives for an independent Synchrony was to develop a powerful and cohesive corporate culture. Its response to Hurricane Maria suggests that the mission has been accomplished.

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