Thasunda Duckett
CEO, Chase Auto Finance, JPMorgan Chase

Opportunity knocked for Thasunda Duckett when she was six months pregnant with her second child.

It was 2009 and Duckett, then JPMorgan Chase's director of affordable lending, was asked to assume the role of regional sales executive for the Northeast, overseeing a staff of more than 800 mortgage lenders and managers. It was a big promotion at a time of monumental change in the mortgage industry and Duckett had her doubts about managing such a large business while raising two small children.

Ultimately, she decided to accept and spent the weeks leading up to her maternity leave working with her management team to develop a business plan and set sales targets. She was promoted again two years later, to retail sales executive for the mortgage unit, and in March 2013 to CEO of Chase's automobile financing division.

Duckett now oversees a business unit that has nearly $60 billion of assets and relationships with more than 75% of the nation's franchised automotive dealers. Chase is the nation's No. 1 noncaptive auto lender to prime customers and, with Duckett in charge, moved up one notch to become the nation's fourth-largest auto lender overall.

Duckett says it was that 2009 decision to accept the mortgage sales job that gave her the confidence to lead large teams and take on more complex challenges. She has relayed her story to thousands of Chase employees, hoping to inspire them to overcome doubt and become more comfortable with taking risks in their careers.

Duckett also inspires others by giving back. She has served on roughly a dozen nonprofit boards in her career and in 2013 she started her own charity in north Texas. The Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation, named after her parents, focuses on improving children's academic performance, boosting high school graduation rates and increasing college attendance.

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