Culture and Talent

A day in the life of U.S. Bank’s head of brand and strategy

  • Kate Quinn, U.S. Bank's chief administrative officer, has been credited for taking the bank's brand from an unknown entity to a trusted brand with an army loyal customers.
  • The effort to rebrand the bank was done with a careful rethinking of the culture internally before and external rebranding effort.
A day in the life of U.S. Bank’s head of brand and strategy

When a recruiter first told Kate Quinn about a job opportunity at U.S. Bank, her response was “I’ve never heard of U.S. Bank,” to which the recruiter responded “That’s exactly why they need you.”

As vice chairman and chief administrative officer at U.S. Bank, Quinn looks after strategy, reputation and human resources work at the bank. A former insurance executive, she was hired in 2013 to take on the role of vice president of brand and corporate affairs.

Quinn said biggest challenge to solve for was to build the brand from the ground up, since U.S. Bank was well-known among investors but a largely unknown entity for consumers. Quinn embarked on a path to change that by strengthening the brand internally and using a community-first engagement strategy with the public.

“There were multiple versions of vision statements floating around the company,” she said. “The company had grown through acquisitions, and though the spirit was there, it wasn’t unified.” For Quinn, this meant surveying employees of all levels on the vision and values that they wanted to see and acting on it.

U.S. Bank’s community approach seems to be gaining traction, with a recent Brand Finance study noting that among U.S. banks, U.S. Bank has the most loyal customers, with 60 percent saying they were very unlikely to switch to other banks. “This is largely related to the bank’s sales model that encourages branch managers to approach members in the community, predominantly business owners, with the aim of developing relationships instead of pushing a hard sale,” the study noted.

“Our community approach goes back to our family history — we grew up in our communities, we are part of local communities and it’s at the heart of who we are, ” Quinn said.

Here’s a diary in her life, edited for clarity.

4:04 am: According to the Fitbit, that’s what time I woke up. I got five hours of sleep, which I track because I am always trying to find ways to get better rest. I drink hot tea and lemon while I go over my emails on my iPad. I usually have some sort of reality TV series going in the background as a distraction – like one of the Housewives or Shark Tank, my favorite. I procrastinate about whether or not I will exercise, and decide that 20 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes of yoga will do me good. Then I have my kombucha and my bulletproof coffee.

5:30 am: I live on a lake in the suburbs of Minneapolis and I love the sunrise —  so I let my old pug venture out and then I take my lab for a walk. I love to hear the owls and watch the lake light up with the rising sun. It makes me see the big picture of my day and clears my head.

6:00 am: I make my kids breakfast (I have two boys still at home, an eight-year-old and a 13-year-old). I make myself oatmeal, egg whites and berries, wolf it all down and rush upstairs to get ready.

6:37 am: I ask Alexa, “Alexa, how long is my commute today?”  She says, “I’m sorry, I don’t know that.” 

6:45 am:  I give everyone hugs and rush out. On my way to work, about a 25-minute commute in my car, I have a phone one-on-one with one of my team members, talking about our multicultural initiative and how we will measure success and appropriately fund the work. This is a critical growth initiative that builds the right products and customer experience for different segments within our communities.  

7:10 am: I arrive at the office, and the first thing I do is pick my aromatherapy scent for the day; I choose “Good Morning Sunshine!” because it’s fresh and energizing. I see that it is donut day on our floor; I may or may not have eaten an apple fritter.

8:00 am: Although my schedule was open for an hour, it quickly fills up. Two of my direct reports want to discuss some legislation that is gaining traction and attention. We need to decide how to make sure our point of view is heard, so we talk about what we should be doing that we have not done yet.

8:20 am: Our president and CEO drops by with questions about two events scheduled for the weekend. We are dividing and conquering so we can represent at both. About 100 more emails and three phone calls fill up the remaining early morning.

10:00 am: It is time to have my quarterly review with our regulators. We have a good discussion about managing the bank’s strategic and reputation risk. 

12:15 pm: For lunch, I eat at my desk — I’m embarrassed to say — while I plough through emails. I have hummus with a pre-cut container of carrots and celery slices. Pre-cut veggies are one of the greatest inventions. I also check my personal email to make sure there is nothing I need to pay attention to with my kids; the teachers all know I check my emails frequently and will respond ASAP. 

1:00 pm: I spend a couple of hours on our budget. It’s planning season, and there are some significant expense and revenue trade off analyses we have to do to nail down my team’s 2018 plan.

4:00 pm: I meet with our chairman and our president and CEO to discuss our plans for the big game coming to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018 – including all of our marketing, activation and planned customer and guest events. We’ve been working towards this for more than two years. We are especially excited about our Possibilities Lounge, where we will showcase the future of banking and our Future Leaders community program. Millions of people will see the U.S. Bank brand showcased on the stadium. We are doing everything we can to get ourselves ready for that kind of exposure. 

4:30 pm: I meet with our customer communications team. We are pushing hard to make all the letters that go to our customers understandable, supportive and streamlined. Quite an effort when we send tens of thousands out from all across the bank – from operations letters to mortgage approvals (and disapprovals) to statements. I am always proud and humbled to see how passionate our employees are about doing the right thing for our customers.

6:04 pm. I leave work and get home around 6.45 p.m. I do tubs for my kids and their bedtime routines: spinning star nightlights and doing some back-tickling to calm the little one to sleep. Then there’s hot chamomile for my teenager, and a grunt as he unplugs all his devices and puts them away for the night. I forgot to really eat dinner so I grab a couple of pieces of cheese; my husband already fed our kids before I get home and sometimes I pick over what’s left, but there’s nothing tonight. I grab my iPad and do a last check of emails for the day.

I check Facebook and send a couple of birthday messages and see what everyone has been up to for the past few days. No posts for me today.

9:15 p.m. I put the iPad away and turn out the lights. I crack my Kindle and start reading “The Other Einstein.” We’ve got a neighborhood book club, and we just picked it. I probably read two paragraphs before I nod off…

 

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