The Top 25
President, COO, and incoming chairman and CEO, KeyCorp
The Power 100 List
Greater Akron, Cuyahoga County, Lake County, Lorain County, Mahoning Valley
#1 Sandy Cutler,
Chairman and CEO,
#3 Christopher Connor,
Chairman and CEO,
The Sherwin-Williams Co.
Tale of Two Cities
#4 Dan Gilbert,
Majority owner, Cleveland Cavaliers; chairman, Quicken Loans Inc.; principal, Rock Gaming
#6 Anthony Alexander,
President and CEO, FirstEnergy Corp.
In Good Health
#8 Thomas Zenty,
CEO, University Hospitals
County Executive Ed FitzGerald talks economic development
Women on Power
Five women on our list provide their views
Good Years, Bad Years
Tracking ups and downs
How Novembers winds blew in change
2010 honorees who didn't
make the list
A metaphorical blank sheet of paper brought Beth Mooney to Cleveland in 2006.
That year, KeyCorp chairman and CEO Henry L. Meyer III recruited the rising banking star away from her post as CFO of AmSouth Bancorporation in Alabama. He did it by offering a challenge simple in premise but complex in execution: Take Key back to basics.
Make Key’s community banking division more like the good old-fashioned neighborhood bank.
Key’s branches resembled “Dairy Queens in the age of Starbucks,” Mooney says. They needed an overhaul, from aesthetics to staffing to technology. Mooney started in Key’s own backyard. Northeast Ohio branches got major facelifts, with photographs of local landmarks on the walls, slick new flat-screens and decor strongly tied to Key’s branding. She updated the branches’ product offerings, technology, ATMs and call centers. The branches offered new enticements such as iPod Touches for new customers.
“[Cleveland] was a market where we were second in market share,” says Mooney, 55, currently Key’s president and COO. “[The changes] were not just to lose what was old and tired. … It was part of the message that something’s different at Key.”
Mooney’s success at using that blank sheet of paper to reinvigorate Key’s branches earned her a groundbreaking promotion. She’ll succeed Meyer as CEO when he retires May 1, making her the first female CEO of a major U.S. bank and the first woman in Northeast Ohio named CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
“Through Beth’s efforts, the community bank is a stronger part of the company now,” says senior bank analyst Peter Winter of BMO Capital Markets. Mooney’s promotion will give Key consistency in its relationship banking strategy, Winter says.
The company is now replicating Mooney’s approach in other major markets. Proof of the strategy’s effectiveness, she says, lies in KeyCorp’s survival during the economic crisis. After two years of losses, the bank posted profits in the second and third quarters of 2010. Deposits are up; it has improved its risk profile and has ascended to become the top bank in the Northeast Ohio market.
“We were validated by these economic events,” Mooney says. “We had the right model and took the right path. Now I think we have a competitive advantage.”
After just four years in town, Mooney’s regional impact is also evident in the head-first dive she’s taken into civic involvement.
“I’ve enjoyed watching the way she’s gotten deeply engaged in the community,” says Joe Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. “I see the same interest levels in Beth in being involved in town as I did in Henry. … It’s a culture in the organization that’s clearly not going away.”
Mooney sits on the boards of the Musical Arts Association, the United Way, the Cleveland Clinic and Neighborhood Progress Inc., where she co-chaired the search effort for the organization’s new CEO.
“She was tireless,” says fellow search committee member Tim Tramble, executive director of Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc. “She’s one of those rare people at that level who really did the civic work that you wouldn’t generally be recognized for. In the trenches, you don’t see a lot of those people.”
Dennis LaBarre agrees. He’s a partner at Jones Day and president of the Musical Arts Association, which supports the Cleveland Orchestra. LaBarre says Mooney, who has sat on an orchestra or symphony board in nearly every city she’s lived, helped the association with its financial modeling.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without that combination of her interests, her background with other symphony orchestras, and her financial and banking expertise,” he says.
That Mooney has eased so quickly into such powerful community roles says something about her work ethic and knack with people. Those who know her say she’s down-to-earth and approachable. She laughs easily and seeks out fun. She’s energetic and intense, sometimes so much that it’s tiring.
“I have to modulate that intensity so people find me more inspiring than overwhelming,” she says. “I think I have that balance more right than not.”
She has a Midwestern plain-spokenness that reflects her Michigan roots, with a knack for down-home turns-of-phrase, likely picked up from her many years living in Texas. “Giddyup, let’s get it done,” she often says to spur her community banking staff to action.
“When she enters a room, she’s not one of those ‘here I am’ types,” says friend Linda Bluso, partner-in-charge at the Cleveland office of law firm Brouse McDowell. “She’s just quietly, effectively going about commanding a crowd.”
Along the way, Mooney has befriended some of the region’s most powerful female executives. Many of them blanketed her downtown office with flowers after the Nov. 18 announcement of her promotion.
“You could hear cheers going up all around the city when she got it,” says Cynthia Schulz, director of public affairs and strategy at the Cleveland Foundation. “Beth getting this position is terrific in so many ways: for Key, for the city, for women.”
Hundreds of women within Key have flooded Mooney’s inbox with e-mails of support and admiration.
“One woman wrote, ‘I’m going to my job this morning and I’m standing taller already,’ ” Mooney says. “I have responded personally to all of these e-mails. I want them to know how much it means to me … and to let them know I intend to make them proud.”