Kyla Stubbs, PNC Bank | Next 2021

Care center site manager

Kyla Stubbs was anticipating a highly challenging 2020 well before the pandemic hit. She had moved from Ohio as the year began, to open PNC Bank’s first Texas customer care center. She already knew it’d be a big effort to recruit 560 people in a market where nobody had heard of PNC before.

But the pandemic forced her to rework the strategy entirely. The new 60,000-square-foot office that she oversees in New Braunfels will remain empty through 2021, as her recently hired staff (she’s gotten about halfway to the full headcount) continues to work remotely.

“It has definitely been a whirlwind, but I am having fun,” Stubbs said, noting that her previous experience as virtual customer care leader helped her smoothly transition the Texas operation to the bank’s digital customer service platform.

Once the March lockdowns went into effect, Stubbs quickly made the call to go fully virtual so the May 11 opening deadline would still be met.

“We had really big aspirations to get boots on the ground recruiting, and we had done two hiring events prior to social distancing being put in place,” Stubbs said.

While it was far from an ideal situation, the results posted at the new call center are impressive and, in Cedric McDonald’s view, show that Stubbs was the right choice for her position. “She has done a phenomenal job,” said McDonald, PNC’s customer service and support director.

Her team’s Net Promoter Score for the second-quarter led the results across all PNC contact centers in both the “place to work” and “products and services” categories.

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Widespread protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer proved to be another big challenge for Stubbs, a veteran diversity and inclusion leader. She described the volatile and emotional time as an opportunity to engage with many people and make a difference, both professionally and personally.

Stubbs began moderating conversations with hundreds of PNC employees over the sensitive subject of race relations. She said diverse teams openly shared their feelings, resulting in heightened empathy and engagement among coworkers.

“For as long as I can remember in my career, I have been involved in D&I councils in some role,” Stubbs said. “But I never felt more involved or engaged or passionate about diversity and inclusion than I did in 2020. What 2020 did for me specifically is challenge me to stop leading D&I on a surface level and to make sure we have programs in place with intentional D&I efforts.”

Still, the biggest moments of awakening for her came at home.

Stubbs, the mother of two, said she realized she needed to talk more about race with her own children after the “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman died of cancer. When her 8-year-old daughter heard about Boseman’s death, she assumed he had been shot.

“I thought my kids’ views were the same as mine,” Stubbs said. “I realized at home my conversations weren’t enough. I hadn’t talked about the importance of feeling proud, despite all the imagery and headlines, of how they are as individuals and who we are as people.”

Nominating executive: Cedric McDonald, customer service and support director

What he said: As PNC Bank planned to open a contact center in a market far from its hometown of Pittsburgh, the company needed a leader with the expertise to not only staff and run the day-to-day operations, but also to establish its brand, and Stubbs has done “a phenomenal job,” McDonald said.

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