Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 8 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 23 Susan Johnson Taking a Leap Power Suit By Sheryl Nance-Nash S ometimes you don't have to look beyond your own backyard for inspi- ration. at was certainly the case for Susan Johnson. Her mother, who emi- grated from Jamaica to New York, worked full-time and went to college while raising We Mean Business > first job out of college, at Westinghouse, would be a path changer. She sat beside a man who had been working on the same circuit for 15 years. She knew she couldn't do one thing for that long. So Johnson went to business school, even though she didn't know what she would do. She figured it would give her options. It did. She would hold a series of jobs of in- creasing responsibility at Fujitsu, Apple, Nuance Communications, Nokia, and NCR. Over the course of her career, Johnson has built a reputation for repo- sitioning iconic brands, streaming go-to- market approaches, and capturing new revenue opportunities with customer engagement and data analytics. Since 2014, she has served as chief marketing officer at SunTrust Banks. Diversity Woman: You got your MBA not knowing how you would use it. How did you get into marketing? Susan Johnson: I was happy in the world of math, but a manager saw something in me that I didn't know I had. He said I should consider marketing. I had never had a marketing class. It was risky, and daunting, to move from engineering to marketing. But I tried it and liked it, and the rest is history. DW: What was your strategy for advanc- ing to become CMO of SunTrust? SJ: I have always tried to continuously take on more responsibility. I'm a plan- ner, looking for growth opportunities. You may not be able to predict what your role will be in five years, but if you grow skills in the areas that interest you, you'll get the skills you need for the job that suits you. Susan Johnson, SunTrust's CMO, initially stumbled into the field—and is now a respected and innovative corporate marketing guru Johnson. Her mother was the first Afri- can American woman to graduate from Fordham Law School. In their household, education was everything. "I was inspired by my mother," John- son says. "She was such an example. She set the bar high." It's not surprising, then, that she would get her bachelor of science degree from Harvard University and her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. A self-professed math geek since high school, Johnson thought engineering would be her path, as her fa- ther was a mechanical engineer. But her

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