Cathy Bessant
Global Technology and Operations executive, Bank of America

If you carved out the Global Technology and Operations division from Bank of America, it would be one of the largest tech organizations in the world, with roughly the same number of employees as Microsoft and the same expense base as Cisco. Cathy Bessant leads this far-flung force of nearly 100,000 employees and contractors, overseeing all of the technology that BofA uses to serve customers in 35 countries.

That sounds intimidating enough, but even more so when you consider the scope of what has to get done. BofA processes more checks than any other bank, second only to the Federal Reserve. It handles more than $900 billion in wire payments every day. Its U.S. wholesale lockbox business is tops in the industry with a market share of 26 percent. Its more than 13 million mobile banking customers are the most for any bank, and it has 30 million active users of online banking.

Bessant is ultimately charged with making sure all of that functions smoothly, and her team is doing so in innovative ways: it earned 149 U.S. patents last year. Her team also is working on hundreds of ideas, many of them around automation and workflow, to make BofA more efficient. Thwarting increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks is yet another responsibility that falls to Bessant. She oversees BofA's information security strategy and leads the business continuity team. But she still finds time for special causes. She chairs the company's Environmental Council, is executive sponsor of a network for LGBT employees and their allies, and is in charge of a 10-year, $50 billion business initiative to address climate change through activities such as carbon finance for clients worldwide.

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