Most Powerful Women to Watch: Melissa Stevens, Fifth Third Bancorp

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Chief Digital Officer

Most banks have art on the walls and might sponsor an arts festival. But employees typically don’t create a public art installation.

Melissa Stevens did just that, though. Stevens is the chief digital officer at Fifth Third Bancorp, responsible for guiding its digital transformation. For years the $185 billion-asset company has been hiring top-notch innovators from across multiple industries, including aviation and design.

So it wasn’t as strange as it might seem that Stevens and her team came up with one of the exhibits for Cincinnati’s BLINK art festival last October. They worked with the design and production company Brave Berlin to create an outdoor interactive display seen by more than 1 million people in Fountain Square, site of Fifth Third’s headquarters.

Stevens said participating in the design challenge had benefits for recruiting and exercising her team’s creativity. The interactive display sparked interest from some people who looked into getting jobs on the digital team at Fifth Third and challenged the team to think differently — which is something that would turn out to be needed much more during the coming pandemic.

The team scrambled to meet customer needs this spring, including by creating automated text alerts to let borrowers know the status of their loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

“Art literally challenges us to see the world differently,’’ Stevens said. “That’s the beauty of BLINK. It’s taking structures we see every day and forcing us to see them in a different light. It’s something we do every day here as we create and innovate for our customers.”

For the first time, American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking celebration is open to the whole financial community. Join us virtually October 6-8 to hear our 2020 honorees' stories and experiences. Register here.

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