Kris Chester ’87 was there during one of the most successful banking mergers in history. In fact she oversaw the entire treasury management integration when Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008.
In a conversation with Business Honors students at Mays Business School, Chester, executive vice president of treasury management implementation and delivery at Wells Fargo, said it was one of the most fun and challenging jobs she has ever held in her 27-year-long career at the international banking and financial services company.
“I had the opportunity to be on the forefront of deciding what the new bank would look like, including what treasury products it would offer, how its operating model would be structured, which people were needed,” she said. Chester studied accounting and finance at Texas A&M University as an undergraduate student.
At Wells Fargo, she manages a team of 800, overseeing the implementation of domestic and international treasury management solutions, designed to help customers manage their treasury operations and succeed financially.
She said implementing solutions for customers can be tricky because customers expect the process to be intuitive and “as easy as setting up an iPhone.” However, she said a true customer-centric approach often requires painstaking care to ensure the implementation goes well. “If you implement well, it makes it easier for customers to continue doing business with you,” she said.
Likewise, she said the secret to the merger’s success was that the decisions kept the customer at the center. She advised students to “always put the customer first when developing products and services; the financial results will follow,” no matter the type of business.
She offered this parting career advice:
- Looks matter – match your appearance to the expectations of the job.
- Take company culture into account.
- Choose your boss wisely. Seek someone you can learn from.
- Don’t stop learning.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks.
- Always have a mentor.