No. 19: First Horizon National Corp.

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Location: Memphis
Assets: $24 billion
No. of employees: 2,456
Chairman, President and CEO: Bryan Jordan
First Horizon, No. 19 in the overall ranking, is also No. 1 in the category for banks with assets of more than $10 billion.

Jamie Herron assumed she would have a tough sell when she sought to enroll in a program designed to groom up-and-coming community leaders.

After all, she was a branch-level financial services representative. Her employer, First Tennessee Bank, a unit of First Horizon National Corp., typically paid only for higher-level employees to join those kinds of programs.

But the bank gave Herron a green light, and she remains grateful a year after she graduated from Leadership Donelson Hermitage.

"To me, it was a game changer," says Herron, who now is a market manager overseeing two branches in a western suburb of Nashville. "It was, 'They're going to invest in finding money for me. I'm going to be their representative out in this area. People are going to know where I'm from. They're going to know that I'm proud to work there.'"

Herron has her eye on other leadership programs too, including First Tennessee's emerging leaders program.

About 25 of the bank's mid-level professionals, such as branch managers, commercial relationship managers and operational leaders are selected to participate in the program each year. Then they get to run through what amounts to a 10-month MBA program.

"It's very competitive," says John Daniel, the chief human resources officer at First Tennessee.

The program launched in 2010 in response to employee feedback, he says. "Our employees said to us that they wanted to make sure that we were developing people from within, and that we had a robust, diverse pool of candidates."

So far, employees who have gone through the program are being promoted at a rate nearly double that of their peers, Daniel adds.

The bank's attention to the future is complemented this year by a focus on the past. Founded in 1864, First Tennessee is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

The celebration has taken numerous forms throughout the year. The bank sponsored a fundraising contest to benefit 150 nonprofits. It also passed out stovepipe hats to employees, reminding them that the bank was founded when Abraham Lincoln was U.S. president.

Other historical highlights include the efforts of one employee, bookkeeper Charles Q. Harris, to keep the bank open during a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in the 1870s.

"We've spent a lot of time this year talking about our culture in the context of 150 years of growth and support for our communities," says Bryan Jordan, the bank's chairman, president and CEO. "We talk about what the country has seen over that period, and what we've done in terms of building our business."

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