JPMorgan Chase's local leader and Columbus 2020 board member has her hands in efforts to grow and diversify Columbus talent.
Columbus location leader and managing director for consumer and community banking and asset and wealth management, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Previous: Managing director roles with JPMorgan Chase involving mortgage banking, risk management, operations and regulatory compliance
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting, Ohio State University, 1985
Personal: Married with four adult children; three sons and one daughter.
It says a lot about Corrine Burger’s low-key style that until now, she’d never done a major media interview.
You might not know her name, but Corrine Burger is the person overseeing local operations for Columbus’ largest private employer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and she’s responsible for nearly 20,000 employees as managing director for consumer and community banking and Columbus location leader. Burger, a CPA who’s handled staggeringly complex bank mergers, is the face of Chase in Columbus, its largest operation in terms of number of employees. Through her role, she’s using her keen understanding of the business world to drive crucial workforce development solutions not only for Chase but also broadly across the Columbus region.
Burger has the ear of the highest levels of leadership at the nation’s largest bank, reporting to New York-based Gordon Smith, co-president and chief operating officer for JPMorgan Chase and a person who has been mentioned among possible successors to CEO Jamie Dimon. Smith says Burger is “exactly the kind of talent we need right now.
“Corrine is collaborative, thoughtful, results-oriented and very personable in her style and approach. She listens to other people, thinks about what it is they have to say and factors their thoughts into her point of view,” Smith says. “What makes her a marvelous executive is she’s just very good at laying out a plan, getting the right people on board to deliver what needs to get done and then following it all the way through. And she’s dealt with some really complex issues for us.”
Smith says Burger has “dramatically helped us improve our customer experience,” beginning when she was asked to step into operations in the years following the Great Recession and the housing crisis, which for banks were some of the toughest years in memory. “And she’s really taken ownership in Columbus,” he says. “She has become… I’ll call it the spiritual leader, the head of all of the company’s activities in the Columbus area. She’s somebody who’s able to drive change, take people on a journey. She cares passionately about the community that she lives in.
“And you know, I have to say: She’s wonderful when there’s a fire.”
The Consummate Fixer
In her precise, understated way, Burger characterizes her contributions to the firm during the fallout from the housing crisis as making process improvements that helped the bank, its customers and its employees. JPMorgan Chase Home Lending CEO Mike Weinbach says she walked straight into a fire.
“There are a lot of people who have technical skills,” Weinbach says. “I think what really distinguishes Corrine is she is a great problem-solver. She is a great problem-finder. A lot of people have a tendency to want to point a finger at somebody else whose fault it is or whose responsibility it should be. When Corrine sees an issue, she owns it.”
For JPMorgan Chase, Burger’s skills were essential as it dealt with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The nation’s largest banks were on the hot seat as customers were being turned out of homes they no longer could afford. JPMorgan Chase’s mortgage business was front and center.
“And she came in to get right into the middle of that,” Weinbach says. “The firm had issues where we had inappropriately foreclosed on military personnel. We had issues that had been going on for some time, but people weren’t well aware of it. And Corrine got right in the middle of finding the issue and getting the right people together.”
Burger’s technical skills in accounting carried JPMorgan Chase through the weekend of Sept. 25, 2008, when it agreed to buy the $310 billion-asset Washington Mutual for $1.9 billion, resolving the largest bank failure in U.S. history. WaMu had been placed into receivership by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. “Corrine was the person who needed to balance the books and figure out how to financially account for the sale properly, which was a very difficult thing to do in a very short time period,” Weinbach says. “I think the FDIC seized WaMu on Friday and then on Monday we needed to know how we were going to balance the books.”
Consent orders from the Federal Reserve, lawsuits by state attorneys general, major private securities litigation settlements and more—“none of those was unique to JPMorgan Chase,” he says. “These were industry issues. That’s true for every single large player in the mortgage industry. And you know Corrine literally sat in the center of all of that, making sure we got to the other side of it, which is where we are now.”
The McCoy Center at Polaris is the nation’s largest single-tenant office building after the Pentagon. At 2 million square feet, it can feel like an impersonal maze of hallways inside a nondescript compound sitting in a sea of parked cars. Four years ago when she was named location leader for Columbus, Burger began a mission to improve employee engagement at the center. “If you look at this building, it’s a massive building to try to get people to feel part of,” Burger says.
To that end, the complex is amid a $200 million renovation plan. Part of that is creating enticing community spaces, such as the new conference center or forthcoming patios, Burger says. About 12,000 employees participate in business resource groups, which bring together people from disparate places in the organization to bond through commonalities. “We’re trying to bring people out of their desks into interacting with the rest of the organization,” Burger says. Volunteerism is another way Burger is engaging the workforce. JPMorgan Chase Columbus employees logged 34,000 volunteer hours last year, she says, double the number five years ago.
More than half of the employees at the McCoy Center are millennials, and the bank is increasingly being seen as a desirable place to work by young people from outside Ohio. When Burger first began working with the 250 or so interns JPMorgan Chase has annually in Columbus, 90 percent were from Ohio. Now, she says 30 percent to 40 percent come from outside Ohio. The shift is happening regionally as well, with Columbus attracting more relocating millennials than any other Midwest city, according to the Brookings Institution.
Alternative transportation is on the minds of many younger workers, and JPMorgan Chase’s Columbus operations had 100 daily riders using Ford’s Chariot microtransit service before the San Francisco-based Chariot ceased operations in February. The experiment started with the “1,000 Car Club,” Burger says, which was an aspirational sort of exercise involving “What would it take to remove 1,000 cars from our parking lot?”
The availability of commute options has benefits beyond recruiting skilled workers. Persuading more people to carpool would solve a logistical issue: The McCoy Center has 10,500 people working in it and only 8,800 parking spaces. Chase is exploring other ideas, such as an app to connect commuters who could ride in together. It also is pursuing partnerships that could involve a Chariot-like service: “We’ve met with everyone,” Burger says, including Columbus-based Share and the Central Ohio Transit Authority.
A major pillar in JPMorgan Chase’s talent strategy is a national focus on diversity and inclusion, Burger says. That underscored a $2.5 million investment the company made last year to support Ohio State scholarships for diverse students.
“Without the right skills and meaningful education, many young people entering the labor market find themselves stuck in low-skill, low-wage jobs or, worse, unemployed and out of school,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a November column in the Columbus Dispatch. “But only half of high school graduates who go on to four-year colleges end up completing a bachelor’s degree within six years. Young people of color and those who come from low-income families fare even worse. Universities must do more to support students of all backgrounds who arrive on their campuses. Looking to the successes of central Ohio, one reason JPMorgan Chase has been able to increase our hiring here is the steady stream of talented women and men graduating from local colleges and universities.”
The idea is for those diverse graduates to work for Chase, Burger says. That symbiosis also is playing out at Columbus State Community College, where Burger sits on the board of trustees and where JPMorgan Chase invested $2.5 million in 2014. Dimon says the bank has hired 630 Columbus State students since then.
Workforce development is center stage for the region’s largest private employer and for organizations supporting economic development here including Columbus 2020, another of Burger’s board positions. As machine learning and artificial intelligence advance to the point of changing the way people do their jobs and indeed what jobs they do at all, organizations including Chase are identifying the necessary skill sets of the future. Problem-solving, math and science skills and critical thinking all are crucial for the workforce of tomorrow.
The market for engineering students coming out of Ohio schools is tight, Burger says. “And it’s probably going to continue to get tighter. You certainly see it from the Columbus 2020 metrics as well. When new companies are coming in, they’re looking at the local labor force. And of course, they see JPMorgan Chase, and we have a large tech presence. We try to attract people to migrate into Columbus, which is always interesting. It’s hard to convince people to come here, but once you get them to come here they don’t want to leave because it’s such a fabulous place to live.”
Columbus is regarded as a tech hub for the bank, with 5,500 technology jobs among its roughly 20,000 total, Burger says. “Well over 10 percent of our global network of technologists are here in this market, so I’d say Columbus is an innovation site,” she says. The innovation lab for Chase’s branch network is in north Columbus, where ATM functionality is invented and tested. In Westerville, about 50 JPMorgan Chase technologists have taken up residence in a new fintech hub at The Point at Otterbein University, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education center. The fintech hub is a collaboration among the city of Westerville, Chase and Otterbein to encourage financial technology research and development including ATMs, credit cards, blockchain, AI, machine learning and cryptocurrency.
“What JPMorgan Chase is doing here helps not only to solidify their presence and their future aspirations within our community, but it also helps to fulfill our vision for The Point,” says City Manager Dave Collinsworth of Westerville, where the bank is the largest employer with about 5,000 workers. “I think Corrine really saw that early on: [The power of] pairing industry, higher education and local government together.”
At Columbus State, Burger brings great strategic capacity to the board of trustees and “has been just a tremendous add in terms of her direct understanding of workforce needs and not just where Chase is going, but where the business world is going,” says David Harrison, the college’s president. JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work program has been put into place under Burger’s leadership and directly supports a regional initiative called the Central Ohio Compact, which has the goal of having 65 percent of adults hold a postsecondary degree by 2025. “A big part of the Chase work has been focused on our relationships with K-12 and their investment has really created an infrastructure that’s allowed us to expand that work dramatically,” Harrison says. “We’re now in the process of extending that same partnership model to employers.” For example, in January JPMorgan Chase began a program in conjunction with Columbus State that gives the bank’s operations employees certification in baseline technology skills such as web development and Java proficiency.
Connecting the region’s public leaders in education, government and nonprofits with the expertise in private industry is crucial for central Ohio to thrive, says Kenny McDonald, CEO of Columbus 2020. “[Burger is] unbelievably connected,” McDonald says. “She gives us great insight into how the bank and its operations are thinking about the world. That helps us not only understand Chase but what their clients are thinking about globally and how we need to evolve as a region to meet their needs locally.
“She wants Columbus to be a talent magnet and a place that gets the credit it deserves for being a highly sophisticated, growing area,” McDonald says. “She is a staunch Columbus advocate and we love her for that.”