How Kercedric Holley-Bell helped her team thrive amid the pandemic

January 29, 2021 | GET MORE : Articles

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The head of customer service and support for Corporate & Commercial Banking was part of a Top Team recognized by American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program

In her three decades with U.S. Bank, Kercedric Holley-Bell has advanced up the corporate ranks to help lead the company’s efforts to provide best-in-class service amid sweeping changes in banking and customer expectations. 

As the bank’s head of customer service and support for Corporate & Commercial Banking, Holley-Bell has won accolades from both inside and outside the company for her leadership and performance. Most recently, she was part of the U.S. Bank team honored through American Banker's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program. 

Since joining U.S. Bank in 1988, Holley-Bell has cultivated strong loyalty and longevity from her management teams. She currently leads a diverse group that includes over 300 people in 33 cities nationwide. Most are women, and the average tenure is about 16 years. 

Holley-Bell attributes that stability to empathetic leadership. 

“It’s getting to know people personally and professionally,” she said. “When you build that kind of relationship with employees, they know they can be their true selves at work. It’s more than just earning a salary. We build careers, and people take pride in their work.”  

Jim Kelligrew, head of Corporate & Commercial Banking for U.S. Bank, says Holley-Bell’s positivity is genuine and has lasting benefits across the business.

“Kercedric leads with optimism, and it impacts everyone. She says she wants every team member to succeed, and she means it,” Kelligrew said. “Her focus on seeing employees for who they are – not just what they do – has meant low turnover, long careers with us, great loyalty, and even better results.”

Her team was put to the test early last year when the federal government launched loan programs to help businesses navigate the economic challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses with more complex structures needed help in ways no one had ever seen before – and the group had to figure it out at a distance, with managers taking on new responsibilities.

“We have hundreds of people working in dozens of cities across the country,” said Holley-Bell. “I couldn’t pull everyone off the phones and reassign them to managing complicated loan applications. So my direct managers and team leads covered the gap. They never hesitated. They worked until two, three o’clock in the morning, weekends. For weeks. And I was right in there with them.” 

She said that staying connected through all-day virtual meetings was critical to the team’s success.

“Normally, you learn by turning to neighbors, listening and asking questions, but because we were working remotely due to COVID restrictions, that natural opportunity was gone. So we turned to technology,” she said. “Conversation kept everyone moving forward, learning, and feeling more connected to the team.” 

Holley-Bell, who was recently promoted to executive vice president, said working through an ongoing pandemic and managing new relief programs has had an unexpected benefit for her team’s approach to helping customers and each other.

“COVID has made us better advocates. We’re sharing the same experience and can relate to our customers in unique ways,” she said. “We’re all working within this new normal, trying to do our best. It’s working. I’m proud to encourage excellence and help my employees work to their potential.”