- TIAA has named Thasunda Brown Duckett to succeed Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., as president and CEO, the organization announced Feb. 25. Duckett will join TIAA May 1, leaving her position as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, a division of JP Morgan. Duckett will become the second Black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 company, joining Roz Brewer, the new CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance. She is also the third-ever Black female Fortune 500 CEO, according to Fortune.
- Duckett has been "a tireless and purpose-driven champion for change" throughout her career, said TIAA, which provides financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. As CEO of Chase Consumer Banking since 2016, she led a banking network with 4,900 branches, more 40,000 employees and more than $600 billion in deposits. Duckett launched the bank’s first major branch expansion in 10 years with the goal of adding 400 new branches in 20 new markets over five years, according to TIAA. Duckett, who earned an MBA from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, began her career at Fannie Mae, leading affordable housing initiatives that assisted people of color. "I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to lead a company that has helped millions of people retire with 'enough' to live in dignity and excited about the opportunity to help TIAA chart its next 100 years," Duckett said in a statement.
- Ferguson previously announced plans to retire March 31 but will remain as CEO until Duckett assumes her new role. He will also continue to serve as an advisor. "Thasunda is the right person to lead TIAA at a time when its work has never been more important and when the challenges of fostering financial stability and inclusion have never been greater," Ferguson said in a statement.
When it comes to solving challenges, CHROs are important strategic partners to CEOs, Society for Human Resource Management President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., once said at a conference.
"I think that the partnership between Thasunda and the HR function will be one that is natural and seamless," Sean N. Woodroffe, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer at TIAA, told HR Dive in an interview. "Thasunda is an executive that has a demonstrable track record in leading and inspiring others." Duckett places a "big premium and focus" on the associate experience, Woodroffe said. "From an HR perspective, we will work brilliantly in advancing employee associated engagement at TIAA under what we know will be Thasunda’s exceptional leadership," he said.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, TIAA has kept a focus on the employee experience through practices such as expanding benefits. For example, the firm now offers 60 days of backup care benefits for associates, which went into effect Jan. 1.
Duckett also believes in financial literacy and financial wellness, Woodroffe said. "From a TIAA perspective, one of the things that we are most looking forward to is the manner in which Thasunda lives our values," he said. At TIAA’s helm, Ferguson took an inclusion-first approach to leadership. 2020 was a year that highlighted this approach amid a global pandemic and calls racial equality. Ferguson has been vocal about TIAA's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and financial literacy.
Duckett has a track record of backing initiatives supporting both employees and communities, according to TIAA. She was the executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase's Advancing Black Pathways program, an initiative to help Black Americans "close historical achievement gaps in wealth creation, educational outcomes and career success," according to the announcement. In addition, Duckett was on the bank’s steering committee for its Women on the Move initiative. "She is committed to financial education for women, who account for a significant portion of the retirement investments of TIAA stewards," the company said. Duckett most also recently led Chase's accelerated focus on communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.