The inspiring story of Thasunda Duckett, the first Black woman on JPMorgan Operating Committee

Abu Mubarik Oct 14, 2020 at 08:00am

October 14, 2020 at 08:00 am | Success Story, Women, Women of Value

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik

October 14, 2020 at 08:00 am | Success Story, Women, Women of Value

Thasunda Duckett of JP Morgan. Photo Credit: America Banker

JP Morgan recently named Thasunda Duckett as the first black woman on its Operating Committee. Duckett’s duties will be expanded from Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking, a division of JP Morgan, to include her Operating duties. This new chapter, according to Duckett, will allow her to be “at the table and having a voice not just for the business” but across the entire firm.

Duckett, known by her friends and colleagues as T, is one of JP Morgan Chase’s visible and accessible executives. She makes regular media and television appearances for the bank. As one of the senior black finance executive, Duckett is working to improve financial health and literacy for the 23 million households served by her organization. 

Duckett grew up in a family that faced economic challenges. Her dad, Otis Brown, worked for Xerox in New Jersey as a truck driver. When the company was closed, her family relocated to Texas where her mom, Rosie, found a job as a teacher. In North Texas, they started over in an apartment using crates as makeshift furniture.

Education was a priority in her family, therefore, the struggles of her family did not impede her education and her two brothers. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Houston and an MBA from Baylor University.

Her life changed when she enrolled in a program called Inroads that focuses on getting minorities into a business. Through the Inroads program, she got an internship at Fannie Mae while in college. She soon found out that she was going to work in the mortgage business, something she could relate to. Fannie Mae was her entry into the corporate world and she never looked back.

Currently, Duckett lives in Connecticut with her husband and four children. She started work at JP Morgan in 2004 and has risen through the ranks to become the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking. She has also held management roles in affordable lending, home lending and mortgage banking. Before assuming her current role in 2016, she was the CEO of Chase Auto Finance.

Duckett oversees more than $800 billion of deposits and investment, 25 million US households, 50,000 employees and 4,900 branches. Her team is in the midst of a five-year plan to add 400 branches in 20 new markets and is now prioritizing physical distancing in light of COVID-19.

Duckett spearheaded Chase’s National Savings campaign, complete with new tools, products, and thought leadership to promote financial health for all consumers. She is the executive sponsor of JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways program, aimed at helping Black Americans achieve economic success through wealth, education and careers. She is also a founding member of the firm’s Women on the Move initiative to advance women in their careers and in business, according to Ted.com.

In 2018, Duckett was named one of the most powerful women in banking by American Banker magazine. In 2019, she was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful “Women to Watch.”

Duckett wants to influence many Black women who do not see many females of color in business top roles to become like her and other leading female black CEOs.

“We can be at the highest levels of corporate America, and so I hope that young people of all backgrounds, little Black and brown girls and boys, will be able to see someone who looks like me, someone who has this unbelievable passion for saying ‘I too, can ascend. I, too, can be a CEO. I, too, can be on the Operating Committee. I, too, can someday do whatever it is that I aspire,’” she told Essence.

In 2013, she founded The Rosie and Otis Brown Foundation in honor of her parents, to recognize people who use ordinary means to uplift their community in extraordinary ways. Despite her success, she and her family continue to face racism. Her 10-year son was called the “N-word” by a white classmate, reminding her of the racism her dad suffered as a child.

Duckett draws inspiration from trailblazers before her, who first entered corporate America and creating a path for her.“I like to say I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams,” she said. “I recognize it wasn’t that long ago I could not exist in corporate America or in many parts of the fabric of our country. 

“When I think about who influences me, and I talk about this publicly, it is the janitors and the cooks and the secretaries who look like me who first entered corporate America that overtime allowed me to exist. I draw a lot of inspiration to those shoulders that I’m on,” she told American Banker.

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