The University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business is honored to present Catherine P. Bessant, BBA ’82, with the 2019 David D. Alger Alumni Achievement Award.
Cathy Bessant is chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, and is a member of the company’s executive management team. Since 2010, Bessant has led Global Technology and Operations (GT&O), delivering end-to-end technology and operating services across the company through nearly 95,000 employees and contractors in more than 35 countries. She also oversees the company’s business continuity and information security strategies and policies.
Since joining the bank in 1982, Bessant has held a number of senior leadership roles for the company. 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.
For the third consecutive year, she ranked No. 1 among the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” by American Banker. Bessant received the 2019 Women in Technology and Data Trailblazer (Lifetime Achievement) Award from WatersTechnology. She has also appeared on Working Mother magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Working Moms” list.
Bessant represents the bank’s employees on a number of important topics, currently serving as executive sponsor for the company’s Disability Advisory Council. She previously served as 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.
Active in the community and region, Bessant received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In addition, she was awarded the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal with the Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named to Business NC’s Power 100. She chairs the North Tryon Vision Plan Advisory Committee.
Bessant led the formation of the Council on the Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Managed by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the council includes the brightest minds from tech, business, academia and government to address ethical and policy issues related to the development and deployment of this rapidly-evolving technology.
Bessant serves on the board of directors of Zurich Insurance Group, is an independent member 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. As part of a leadership course at Ross, she summited Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, in August 2018.
About the Award
Established in 1989, this award recognizes an alumnus or alumna of the business school whose attainments in their professional field have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the school, and benefit to their fellow citizens.
The Alumni Achievement Award has been named in honor of David D. Alger, MBA 1968, and 2001 recipient of this award. David was a dynamic, involved, passionate member of the Michigan Business School community and a member of the School’s Visiting Committee. David perished in the events of Sept. 11, 2001.