Cathy Bessant serves as vice chair, Global Strategy at Bank of America, and is a member of the company’s executive management team.
In this role, Cathy is responsible for working with our European boards, focused on the integration of our global strategy. She is based in Paris and provides leadership within and beyond our European presence.
Bessant most recently served as chief operations and technology officer from 2010 - 2021, responsible for delivering end-to-end technology and operating services across the company through a team of 95,000 people in over 35 countries, with oversight of the company’s global information security efforts.
Since joining the bank in 1982, Bessant has held a number of senior leadership roles. She was president, Global Corporate Banking; president, Global Product Solutions and Global Treasury Services; chief marketing officer; president, Consumer Real Estate and Community Development Banking; national Small Business Segment executive; and president of the Florida market.
Bessant serves as executive sponsor for the company’s Disability Advisory Council. In 2021 Bessant received Disability:IN’s John D. Kemp Leadership Award for her advocacy among businesses for disability employment programs and services. She was formerly the executive sponsor for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride executive board and led the creation of the LGBT Ally program. She was previously named No. 1 among OUTstanding LGBT+ Ally Executives, presented by the Financial Times.
A thought leader across industries, Bessant spearheaded the creation of The Council on the Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence, which was launched with Harvard’s Kennedy School as well as the Centre for Digital Transformation at the Indian Institute of Management. Bessant is also a prominent speaker at the World Economic Forum driving the discussion on the future of artificial intelligence, cyber security and the importance of re-skilling the workforce.
After ranking No. 1 for three consecutive years, Bessant was inducted into the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” Hall of Fame by American Banker in 2020. Bessant was named to Barron’s “100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance” in 2020 and 2021, and she received WatersTechnology’s 2019 Women in Technology and Data Trailblazer Award. She has also appeared on Working Mother magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Working Moms” list and was named a Girl Scouts Lifetime Achievement Honoree.
Bessant serves on the board of directors of Zurich Insurance Group, serves as chair of the USA Field Hockey board of directors, and is on the advisory board for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain in 2018, and she studied photojournalism in Cuba during a 2016 expedition.
A graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Bessant is the proud mother of two children and a cancer survivor.
Follow Cathy Bessant on Twitter: @CathyBessant