The Women to Watch: No. 10, Wells Fargo's Hope Hardison
Chief Administrative Officer, Wells Fargo
Outside of CEO Tim Sloan, Hope Hardison is the Wells Fargo executive who is most responsible for rebuilding the bank's damaged reputation.
As chief administrative officer, Hardison oversees all functions that touch on branding, culture and reputation, including human resources, marketing, corporate social responsibility and a new unit, stakeholder relations, that encompasses investor relations, communications and government relations. Her group is also responsible for all data management and all customer remediation, functions that until recently were handled within each line of business.
Hardison, who has been in the role since August 2015, has been consolidating units that had previously been run independently since the phony-accounts scandal exploded into view two years ago and thrust the bank into crisis. It's big change for Wells Fargo, which had historically operated under a decentralized model that encouraged business heads to set their own agendas.
The new model championed by Hardison, dubbed One Wells Fargo, "is designed to put the good of the enterprise above the good of any one business," the company said.
In her role, Hardison has broad influence over everything from employee compensation to marketing to corporate philanthropy. According to Sloan, Hardison was a driving force behind decisions to end product sales goals for branch employees and to award stock options to some 250,000 employees who were previously not eligible for stock compensation. She was also deeply involved in the development of the bank's "Re-established" advertising campaign and is leading the bank's effort to commit more than $1 million a day to philanthropic efforts.
Importantly, Hardison has also torn up the bank's 25-year-old, 40-page "vision and values" booklet and replaced it with a six-page one that concisely lists the values expected to guide every action and sets aspirational goals for Wells Fargo to be the industry leader in customer service and advice, employee engagement, innovation, risk management, corporate citizenship and shareholder value.
The new booklets were distributed to all Wells Fargo employees by the end of 2017 and all iterations of the old booklet are being retired, the company said.
Hardison spends a lot of time on the road communicating to customers, investors, regulators and employees that Wells Fargo is changing its ways. In meeting with these groups, Hardison says she strives to be honest and authentic, and she makes sure to keep prepared remarks to a minimum and leave plenty of time for questions and answers.
"The audience always knows when you are reading from a script instead of speaking from the heart," she said.