The Women to Watch: No. 11, Fifth Third's Melissa Stevens

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Chief Digital Officer, Head of Innovation, Design and Customer Experience, Fifth Third Bancorp

As the chief digital officer at Fifth Third Bancorp, Melissa Stevens places a lot of emphasis on team-building.

Last year, for example, when the Cincinnati bank launched a sponsorship partnership with Nascar's Roush Fenway Racing, Stevens brought her team to meet with the Roush's operations director to learn what makes one of stock car racing's most successful teams tick. They witnessed how every piece of the operation — from the pit crew to the quality assurance team to the people who analyze rule changes — was interconnected and vital to Roush's success, and the meeting helped to reinforce Stevens's oft-repeated message that it's teams, not individuals, that drive results.

"You can get a lot done if you don't care who gets the credit," Stevens is fond of saying.

Judging by the pace of innovation at the $169 billion-asset Fifth Third, that team-first message is clearly resonating.

In the three years since Stevens joined Fifth Third, the bank has: rebuilt its consumer and commercial digital channels to improve and speed up service; launched an online consumer loan platform; rolled out apps that help consumers hit savings targets and pay down student debt; and created its first innovation lab, dubbed ONE67.

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On Stevens's watch, Fifth Third was also among the first banks to be part of the Zelle person-to-person payment network — Stevens was a member of Zelle's first advisory council — and the digital team has played a critical role in the design of the bank's next-generation of branches.

Stevens joined Fifth Third from Citigroup, where she held a number of high-ranking of positions, including chief operating officer at Citi FinTech and global digital head for consumer banking.

Tim Spence, Fifth Third's head of consumer banking, payments and strategy, said that Stevens has "driven transformational change" that has touched nearly every aspect of the bank. She has also emerged as one of its most trusted leaders, as evidence by the fact that all business line heads have allocated significant portions of their annual budgets to Stevens's innovation team.

"This shows how she isn't just transforming our company, but how [other] leaders see her as the one who will lead us," Spence said.

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