Most Powerful Women to Watch: Jennifer Smith, Zions Bancorp.

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Chief Information Officer

Jennifer Smith has a bunch of technology projects in the works at Zions Bancorp.

The $76 billion-asset Zions is in the midst of a multiyear mission to revamp its core banking system, but Smith has found time to oversee investments in other technology meant to improve service for customer segments such as middle-market and small businesses.

Those new capabilities were put to the test with the onset of the pandemic, and Smith, the corporate chief information officer, is pleased with the results. She credits the investments — in automated processing, collaboration platforms and application programming interface capabilities — with allowing Zions to quickly build a digital system for processing and approving tens of thousands of Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Smith takes a long view when it comes to the workplace as well. With most of her 2,000-plus employees scattered across 11 facilities in the Salt Lake Valley, Smith lobbied to build a new, more cost-effective, 400,000-square-foot campus to house the local contingent. The campus is scheduled to be completed in mid-2022.

To collaborate effectively, Smith stresses the importance of relationships, whether it’s between a banker and small-business customers or among company leaders. The pandemic has only reinforced the importance of relationships in all facets of her life.

While checking on Zions’ buildings after an earthquake hit outside Salt Lake City in March, Smith came across a security guard sitting alone in a facility that had lost power. “Her face and voice broke and showed the agony that only a pandemic, an earthquake and loneliness can bring,” said Smith, who stayed there until the guard’s employer released her for the day.

“When experiencing uncertainty, we need our relationships the most,” Smith said.

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Core systems Jennifer Smith Zions Bancorp.