Bessant says Moynihan takes the pain out of annual reviews

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Cathy BessantBank of America

Cathy Bessant received a top award from UNC Charlotte. Her boss, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, is at left, next to former BofA CFO Joe Price, who chairs the university’s board of trustees. Others pictured include former Charlotte municipal executive Ron Kimble and UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois.

Cathy Bessant, honored today with UNC Charlotte’s annual Distinguished Service Award, told a lunch crowd of about 200 people that she dreads her annual performance review.

But the painful process has helped her understand the skills of her boss, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. “He’s a world-class coach,” she said. “He actually knows me better than I know myself.”

Moynihan saluted Bessant’s leadership skills in a brief speech, noting the Charlotte-based executive’s insistence on diversity and devotion to BofA’s principals of growth, “doing it the right way,” and sustainability.

As chief operations and technology officer, Bessant, 57,  oversees about 80,000 employees, or about 40% of the bank’s staff. A University of Michigan graduate, she has worked for BofA for 35 years, remaining a key executive through the administrations of CEOs Hugh McColl Jr., Ken Lewis and Moynihan. She and Andrea Smith, the chief administrative officer, are the two highest-ranking executives of the bank working from Charlotte, while most other top leaders are based in New York.

She called Moynihan “the truest egalitarian I know,” citing his decision to charge lower-paid employees less money for health care than bigger earners.  “He knows how to motivate 200,000 employees to do what is right.”

Moynihan called Bessant the “number one tech person in our industry,” credited her fierce advocacy for LGBTQ rights and for her lengthy involvement in Charlotte civic affairs. Noting the many maps of North Tryon Street in her office — she is a leader in  efforts to revitalize the submarket — Moynihan joked, “I wonder how much that is going to cost us someday.”

Ron Kimble, a former top Charlotte municipal executive, and Michael Marsicano, president of Foundation for the Carolinas, also gave talks praising Bessant.

UNC Charlotte has issued the annual award since 1987, recognizing service to the university and community.

 

 

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