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The Women to Watch: No. 21, Zions' Jennifer Smith

Chief Information Officer, Zions Bancorp.

Three years into her role as chief information officer, Jennifer Smith is leading the largest employee group at Zions Bancorp. — more than 20% of the workforce — and is overseeing a core banking conversion that is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

The Salt Lake City company is replacing its aging core loan and deposit processing system with one built for the digital age. Over the course of the multiyear conversion to what it calls FutureCore, the $66 billion-asset Zions plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars — easily the largest tech project in the company’s history.

The first phase went live in May 2017, and earned Celent’s Model Bank Award for “best legacy transformation,” a recognition Scott McLean, Zions president and chief operating officer, credits to Smith’s “exceptional leadership.”

Smith was promoted to CIO in late 2015, after having served as the director of enterprise operations at the company. Before that, she was the chief auditor.

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In her various roles at Zions, Smith has been dedicated to empowering women. Several years ago, Smith joined three other female leaders to spearhead a working group for improving how women are developed and supported.

They started by conducting surveys and extensive interviews to assess the sentiment of women across the company, and from there generated recommendations for improvements.

Since the initiative began, female representation on the executive management committee has increased.

Offshoots of that work also are emerging. One of Smith’s direct reports — the chief technology officer, who is male — has established the company’s Women in Technology initiative, which aims to improve the recruitment and retention of women in tech roles.

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