Her actions make an impact: Women lead the way through the COVID-19 pandemic
The pandemic has been a true example of history-in-the-making, and strong leaders in Synovus are leaving their fingerprints on this chapter. In the words of Robin Sharma, “Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best lead when the plan falls apart.” Synovus has countless examples of individuals who have stepped up and stood out during the pandemic, and whose strong leadership steadied teams and customers as best laid plans turned upside down and we faced constant new challenges. This month, as we celebrate Women’s History, we reflect on the far-reaching impact of female leaders during the pandemic and highlight examples of women who were—and continue to be—central in the creation and facilitation of company-wide action to respond to a global pandemic.
People first — Sandy Knight, Senior Director of Human Resources
Sandy led the human resources team in taking swift action to implement new policies regarding leave and additional compensation for those who remained on-premise to serve customers. As the pandemic has progressed, she’s continued to guide many of the decisions and adjustments that ensure team members are well supported. While the national trends of individuals, particularly females, exiting the workforce are alarming, Synovus has bucked those trends. The time and effort to react and remain flexible to team member needs under the leadership of individuals like Sandy are a big reason why.
“The best advice I ever received was, ‘Trust my own voice.’ My late mother taught me that. She instilled in me the belief that my uniqueness was a personal and professional asset. I’ve carried that with me throughout my whole life, especially when I’ve had to stand alone.”
— Sandy Knight
Converting branch servicing — Jennifer Upshaw, Chief Retail Officer, and Susan Pitts, Retail Banking Executive
Jennifer and Susan faced a mountain of challenging decisions daily as they converted branches to drive-thru-only service within a week. They met daily with peer groups to vet servicing adjustments to ensure a strong network of access and faced unheard-of issues such as a national coin shortage. They supported team members balancing new challenges away from work and pressures of servicing customers in new ways while maintaining high service standards. Thanks to their hard work, and the perseverance of our team members, our branch net promotor scores trended higher during the lock-down than prior to it.
Transitioning our call center to remote — Renee Roth, Executive Director, Customer Care, and Dana Lloyd, Director of Customer Care
Renee and Dana led the team responsible for transitioning call center team members from centralized call centers to a distributed remote workforce. What’s more, they accomplished that almost overnight. From managing the deployment of new remote call-center technology to navigating shortages as team members adapted their home environments to be work-place ready, Renee’s and Dana’s experience in managing technology, operations, and customer service was a great strength during the transition.
“It took a village, as they say, to pull off getting 230+ team members working remotely. During the transition, there were record numbers of ad hoc messages being scripted, recorded and posted; leaders were driving around town searching for headsets for our agents and delivering headsets to agents’ homes; we were implementing modified processes, controls and agent scorecards to support the remote environment. Especially noteworthy, was that all of this was accomplished while achieving our highest-ever voice of the customer results.”
— Renee Roth
Communicating through constant change — Laura Hanley, Senior Director, Marketing, and Katherine Hamilton, Senior Communications Specialist, Corporate Communications
As customers faced daily uncertainty due to the pandemic, Synovus sought to minimize disruption to customers’ routines and overall banking experience. To do so, we had to be nimble and fast in delivering the latest information. Over the past year, Laura Hanley has managed teams delivering vital information from branch location availability and stimulus checks to advice on protecting yourself and your business against fraud and the launch and ongoing communications supporting the Paycheck Protection Program. By June 2020, the volume of emails to customers was double that for all of 2019.
Katherine led mission control for team member communications, ensuring around-the-clock awareness for our people, who make up the heart of our organization. She coordinated efforts across business and support teams, serving as the corporate communications point person and ensuring that team members had the right information at the right time to navigate through ever-changing conditions for themselves and customers.
Protecting our teams and our customers — Sharon Sanders, Senior Director of Corporate Services
Sharon and her team couldn’t have imagined that their biggest task in the early part of 2020 would be to scour the market for cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and face masks to protect our workforce. But, as the head of Corporate Services, it was Sharon’s responsibility to task her team with quickly locating and distributing personal protective equipment for all on-premise team members. Not to mention, she also had to work across five states and numerous vendors to implement new cleaning standards to meet CDC recommendations. She played a central role in making sure our facilities and team members were protected daily and continues to lead the process of assessing new ways to work and retrofit all our facilities for full team member re-entry.
“I’m proud of how we reacted and handled everything. We were trying to forge this new road and figure it out along the way. And while some of those tasks seemed insurmountable at first, they never were.”
— Sharon Sanders
Taking the lead in our communities — Pam Simmons and Lisa Lassiter
While much of our company efforts during the pandemic have aimed at keeping our customers and team members safe, we didn't lose sight of the communities we serve. To that end, Lisa and Pam produced impactful Here Matters outreach in one of the first nationally labeled COVID-19 hotspots. Recognizing a need, they coordinated a large donation to the local health system's COVID-19 relief efforts, helping provide essential supplies to support local response efforts. Also, Lisa worked to deliver more than 2,000 individually packed meals to health care employees. She partnered with local Synovus customer restaurants and often made personal trips to the supermarket for extra fruit, sides, and serving items.
Angie is no rookie to uncharted waters. From being the second woman to lead a Synovus geographic market to leading a prior company-wide process-redesign, Angie doesn’t back down when faced with the unknown. Her steadiness and broad background across business and support lines made her the ideal choice to lead our re-entry planning efforts. From initial re-entry playbook delivery to an on-going process of adapting and adjusting to changing trends and issues, she continues to help guide Synovus through the new challenges that COVID-19 poses to business operations.
“No company in America had ever gone through a global pandemic. There were no experienced consultants or playbooks for this crisis. So, we created our plan from scratch using talent and resources from within the company and always considering the Synovus culture.”
— Angie Lewis
As we look ahead to Synovus' future, we're encouraged by the strength and resilience that our women team members and leaders show daily. After all, if a global pandemic couldn't stop them, we know nothing will.
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