Rilla Delorier
EVP, Consumer Channels, SunTrust Banks

SunTrust Banks is out to improve the experience of both its customers and employees in what it calls "the largest transformational effort" in its history. So naturally Rilla Delorier — who Chief Executive Bill Rogers describes as "an innovative and inspirational leader" — is the one spearheading this massive effort.

It's been a little more than a year since Delorier shifted from her previous role as chief marketing officer to overseeing consumer banking channels. She now has oversight of SunTrust's 1,470-branch retail network, which brings in a third of the company's revenue. She is overhauling the branches to add technology such as video tellers and recently introduced a self-service safe deposit box, which she says is a first among U.S. banks.

The Atlanta company also is spending $100 million on mobile and online banking projects as part of a new omnichannel strategy that is Delorier's responsibility. Her work to implement more seamless automated service across channels already has resulted in tens of millions of savings in operating expenses.

But Delorier says the most rewarding — and by far the most fun — experience she has had in her career is her effort over the past year to infuse the workplace with more lightheartedness. "Fun and professionalism aren't mutually exclusive," even if banking is a serious business, she says. "But you can't just walk into an office and tell people 'have fun.' You have to build a culture that encourages people to enjoy themselves."

Her tactics, which have gradually won over the office cynics, include setting aside 15 minutes every Monday for a different team member to lead a fun activity (dance party, anyone?) and initiating Thank You Thursdays to encourage leaders to send out appreciative notes recognizing teammates for their work.

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