Tenzin Alexander, Huntington | Most Powerful Women: Next
Social media director
As the coronavirus began to upend business this spring, Huntington Bancshares tapped into its social media channels to help formulate a response to the crisis.
The questions and comments that customers posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helped the Columbus, Ohio, company make key decisions about the safety measures it deployed.
Tenzin Alexander is the one who implemented the system tracking social media data for the $114 billion-asset Huntington. She is also charged with making sure that social media “has a seat at the table” when it comes to decision-making, from how to roll out new products to how to do business during a pandemic.
“Social media is a good data point to use when trying to gauge sentiment or impact and get a good read on external trends,” said Alexander, one of 15 executives selected for our second annual Next list. (This extension of our Most Powerful Women in Banking program is meant to highlight high-achieving women in the leadership pipeline who are age 40 and under.)
“It’s a channel that can be easily measured and where people choose to share their honest view and opinions,” she added.
Alexander, who was promoted to social media director in August 2018, has been listening to bank customers’ views for nearly 20 years. When she was a 17-year-old high school senior who needed money for her car payment, she got a job at Huntington’s call center on the recommendation of a friend. Alexander was familiar with Huntington because her Tibetan-born parents, who immigrated from India to Columbus when Alexander was 5, banked there.
“I enjoyed taking a call that would initially be an upset customer calling about a fee and turning that into an experience where I would explain to them what caused the fee and how they could avoid that fee in the future,” she said. “Often that same customer would end the call thanking me.”
In the call center, Alexander honed her customer service skills, which serves her well today both in her day job and as an advocate for affordable housing access.
A forward-thinking leader, Tenzin always has a vision for growth and improvement.
In 2014, she and her husband were about to become first-time parents when they acquired a duplex in their Columbus neighborhood. They wanted to start building generational wealth for their growing family, which now includes two daughters, a 5-year old and a 5-month-old. They also envisioned being able to help other families.
“We really had no idea what we were doing, but we felt really passionately about it,” said Alexander, who grew up in low-income housing with her parents and brother. Her mother, a former school secretary in India, worked two jobs after coming to the United States, including as a cashier at a grocery store, while her father, a former school teacher who is blind, completed training at a state-run organization for the visually impaired and works in jobs where he uses his hands to make things such as boxes and manufacturing parts.
Alexander and her husband gradually went on to buy a few properties in their neighborhood, fixing them up and renting them at or below the fair market rents set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since 2018, the pair have partnered with local agencies that provide transitional housing for men who have been homeless due to mental illness and single mothers ages 18 to 24.
“It’s been really fulfilling to take something that started as a way to diversify our income and create something we feel really good about,” Alexander said. Affordable housing “is so critical,” and public-private partnerships can be a very successful way to address the challenge, she added.
In her role at Huntington, she has led the formation of a social media strategy that ensures brand consistency across platforms, incorporates an influencer marketing program and reduces response time for customer concerns made on social media. She also led the creation of the social media care team, which has grown from two people to nine.
“We took the service level for first response from two hours to five minutes and implemented customer satisfaction surveys and agent performance measurement,” she said.
Chief marketing and communications officer
What she says:
“A forward-thinking leader, Tenzin always has a vision for growth and improvement,” Tutkovics wrote in nominating Alexander for the Next list. Alexander also leads the team she’s built with grace and confidence, Tutkovics said, adding that Huntington’s emphasis on culture elevates the importance of “how” its executives lead to a level on par with any other performance measure. “Tenzin exemplifies smart, tenacious leadership, but also the character, purpose and care representative of an ideal C-suite executive. I expect we’ll see her there someday.”