The Women to Watch: No. 3, SunTrust's Allison Dukes
Chief Financial Officer, SunTrust Banks
Allison Dukes' rise through SunTrust Banks' management ranks has been unusually swift.
Since 2011, when she headed up syndicated finance originations for SunTrust's investment banking arm, Dukes has been promoted five times, most recently in March, when she was tapped to replace Aleem Gillani as chief financial officer. She is the first female CFO in the Atlanta bank's 127-year history.
The promotion was in large part a recognition of a job exceptionally well done in her previous role as head of commercial and business banking. Her key initiatives included launching a new business line dedicated to the senior housing industry and expanding SunTrust's commercial lending operations into two new markets, Texas and Ohio. That expansion was funded largely by the cost savings stemming from her decision to flatten the division's management structure and consolidate nine commercial banking divisions into five.
Though Dukes held the position for less than a year, the business thrived under her leadership, generating record revenue and net income for 2017.
Since 2012, Dukes has also served as the chief financial officer for consumer banking and private wealth management, co-head of private wealth management and chairman and CEO of the Atlanta market. William Rogers Jr., SunTrust's chairman and CEO, attributes Dukes' meteoric rise to a "passion for clients and a drive for excellence."
Dukes, who joined SunTrust in 1997, says that her approach to customer service has been shaped largely by what she has learned from one of her mentors, Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, whom she met a dozen years ago through a corporate apprenticeship program.
"I learned that what I do is not a 'job,' " she says. "At SunTrust, we make an impact in people's lives … whether that's helping them purchase their first home, fund a small business, expand their corporate presence or send their children to school. Every client is different."
Dukes also credits Rogers with instilling in her a passion for giving back to the communities SunTrust serves. That passion was on full display earlier this year when she and Rogers were among the dozens of people to participate in an overnight campout to celebrate the opening of a Chick-fil-A in a redeveloping neighborhood on Atlanta's west side. SunTrust is actively involved in the neighborhood's revitalization, and the presence of two high-ranking executives at the campout, on a rainy January night, made a powerful statement about the bank's commitment to that effort.