When Melissa Ingwersen’s grandfather asked her if she had ever thought about a career in the banking industry, she didn’t hesitate to answer with an emphatic, “No!”
Born and raised in Bexley, Ohio, Ingwersen was ready to explore the world after high school graduation. She couldn’t wait to get out of the Bexley bubble, so she spread her wings and headed up to Chicago where she attended Northwestern University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in communications and a minor in economics and with big dreams under her belt.
Ingwersen aspired to have her own TV show. She soon realized that it was a bit ambitious to think that a 22-year-old would land her very own show. In 1982, while the country’s economy was struggling a bit, Ingwersen began interviewing for a broad range of positions in many cities. Her search led her right back to Columbus where she accepted a position with National City Bank (now PNC) — yes, banking! — in the credit training program. Not only did she begin her career in banking, she settled back in Bexley.
“When I returned to Columbus, I knew that I had to work hard to earn respect and gain knowledge in the industry,” says Ingwersen. “I was focused on the task at hand.” Her time at National City Bank gave her exposure to the corporate and commercial side of banking, and she loved it. For seven years, she learned about large companies and emerging private banking groups, and she focused on middle market banking.
Ingwersen knew that she needed to make a life here in Columbus and Bexley that was fitting for a woman in the corporate world. “My mother was a committed volunteer, and I was raised with a sense of responsibility,” she adds. “Upon returning to Columbus, I joined the Junior League to get connected to others and the community.” She also joined the Columbus Literacy Council where she was asked to serve on their board after only a few short years.
With years of banking experience, Ingwersen took the recommendation of a friend and accepted a position with Bank One (now JP Morgan Chase). This new position would allow her greater opportunity. Bank One has historically been a bank that thinks differently. They are early adapters. This intrigued Ingwersen, and she soon grew within the company and was assigned to a number of special projects. “I loved that this position allowed me to think differently about the financial and banking industry,” she adds.
“I had so much respect for the people I worked with.” During her 21 years at Bank One, Ingwersen experienced the company’s incredible growth as an organization while she also grew as a leader. She served 10 years as president of the Central Ohio market.
While at Bank One, Ingwersen met a woman named Beth Mooney. “I have deep respect for her leadership style,” she shares. In 2011, Ingwersen left Bank One to join Mooney at KeyBank where Mooney had become the first female in the country to be named CEO of a top-20 bank. This was inspiring to Ingwersen and something she wanted to be a part of.
Her hard work, focus and determination and her thirst for knowledge and understanding of the industry, her clients and the community led Ingwersen to be named president of the Central Ohio district for KeyBank. What makes this position even more impressive is that in KeyBank’s 26 markets, there are only 3 women who are district presidents. “An interesting fact about Columbus banking is that the majority of bank presidents here are women,” Ingwersen adds.
What does KeyBank’s Central Ohio market president do on a daily basis? “My role is to oversee the operations of the bank here in Central Ohio,” says Ingwersen. “That means the branches, private banking, business banking and commercial banking. One of the things I love most about my job is helping others rise to meet their goals.”
In Ingwersen’s many years in the banking industry, she has experienced many changes. “Technology has had the greatest impact on the industry since I became a banker,” she shares. When she began her career, personal computers were not common, email was just exploding and the iPhone didn’t even exist.
Technology has changed the way people bank and share information within companies and with their clients. “Most of the information our clients are seeking is just one touch away using the mobile applications,” adds Ingwersen. “Through these applications and services, banks are now able to offer access to information, efficiencies, and a variety of services on a 24/7 basis to all of our clients.”
There is one thing that has remained a constant in the industry, and it is one thing that Ingwersen truly values: “The importance of relationships in the financial industry is the one thing that has not changed. For all of the great access and support that technology provides, it will never replace the power of a personal relationship when you are dealing with someone’s financial life.”
“I love what I do. I love our community. I am constantly asking myself, ‘How can I help the community?’” Ingwersen says. She has had, and continues to have the pleasure of serving on all different kinds of boards. Some are professional organizations, some are community organizations, and some are personal. Many of them become personal for her.
She enjoys having a combination of different kinds of boards to serve on at the same time. This gives her a broad perspective on the community, helping her to connect the dots between her personal and professional lives. “Being part of community and professional organizations leads me to meeting people,” says Ingwersen. “If you want to become a leader in the business community, it is important to stay engaged in the community.”
From the very beginning of her professional career, Ingwersen knew how important it was to give back to the community. The list of boards she has served on and led is very long, as is the number of organizations that have benefited from her volunteering. This kind of community service has not gone unnoticed. In 2014, Melissa Ingwersen was inducted into the YWCA Women of Achievement. This is an honor presented to leaders in our community who motivate us with their examples of determination, generosity and courage.
As president of the Central Ohio market for Key Bank, breaking barriers for women is nothing new for Ingwersen. The first woman board chair of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, she works every day to ensure all people have opportunities to succeed in business. “I have an affinity for women, but I feel a stronger affinity to great businesses who want to grow,” says Ingwersen. “Some of the most successful projects I’ve seen are ones in which men truly appreciate their colleagues who are women, and the women in turn thrive.” Ingwersen has also served as a YWCA board member and chair.
Her world of opportunity in the banking industry and the community is so vast, but she personally thrived in her small hometown of Bexley. Ingwersen has been married to her husband, Frank, for 34 years. She didn’t meet Frank until she returned to Bexley after graduating from Northwestern University, even though he grew up just two streets away from where she did. They are parents to twins Andrew and Paige who just graduated from college. “I loved raising my family in Bexley,” she reflects. “Now I want for them to be good citizens of the world.”
Speaking of a small world, a fun fact about Ingwersen is that since day one of her banking career, she has held positions in three major banking institutions in Columbus — each one on a different corner of the same intersection in downtown Columbus at Third and Broad. Ingwersen has always parked in the same parking garage.
As she continues to grow as a leader in the banking industry and in our community, Ingwersen stays true to what has always helped guide her, “Learn about other people and the challenges we face, and be open to hearing and giving your time.”