Moving on Up
From Intern to Vice President of Communications at Bank of America, alumna Dana Jennings credits her fast tracked success to the opportunities she had as a Jenkins MBA student.
Dana Jennings’ new career with Bank of America has been nothing if not fast-tracked. After less than three years, she was promoted in January to vice president/communications manager.
The backstory starts with Jennings’ whirlwind experience with a bank representative at the National Black MBA Association conference as a student in NC State’s Jenkins MBA program. She talked with the rep, had an interview and was offered an internship — all in less than a week.
As soon as Jennings finished her consumer banking summer internship in 2018, the bank offered the 2019 Jenkins graduate the full-time position of strategy and management associate in its Leadership Development Program. Her experience in that program and at Jenkins prepared her for her new role.
“I am able to elevate and move so fast because of my MBA,” says Jennings, who is based in Charlotte at bank headquarters.
It’s no wonder she points to Jenkins’ Career and Development Office as one of the most valuable parts of the MBA program. “The career development guidance I received at NC State has been integral to my success at Bank of America,” Jennings says.
Her team supports internal communications for diversity and inclusion initiatives, including Black History Month events, and the bank’s environmental, social, and governance unit, which promotes sustainable organizational growth.
One bank priority her group supports is the $1.25 billion initiative, launched in 2020, to advance racial equality internally and externally, partnering with historically Black colleges and universities and other organizations. “What I’m most excited about is being closer to the work that I really care about, what I live and breathe every day. That’s why I wanted to be on this team,” Jennings says.
For her, it goes beyond the personal. She hopes the bank will inspire other organizations to launch similar far-reaching diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“We may lay the foundation for other banks and organizations to make commitments like we have. We do a lot in the community. I hope that with the communications my team does, we elevate the work, so people see that Bank of America is doing a lot of great things,” Jennings says.
Jenkins’ MBA program prepared her to do great things at Bank of America, starting with the presentation and networking skills she gained as a student.
Jennings cites as especially helpful a product and brand management course, marketing classes, Excel instruction, and a semester-long research practicum she did with a student team. In a bank research project she was involved with about messaging for an investment product, “I was able to lead that as someone new on the team because I had done the practicum at NC State,” she says.
One highlight of her Bank of America career is helping lead the bank’s Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development for Women (LEAD) program for the Charlotte chapter, an employee network. She’s among the planners of an annual symposium that draws hundreds of people.
“Women’s initiatives are so important to me, having grown up in a woman-led household,” Jennings says.
“The connectivity among women — it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Jennings has helped foster connections among women at NC State, too.
She was president of the Jenkins MBA Women’s Club, which organizes the annual Innovative Women Conference that features business leaders. “We were able to not only elevate Jenkins, but we had that synergy of women,” Jennings says.
At an NC State Women’s History Month event last year, she was among the speakers. And March 10, she’ll be a panelist at a Jenkins “industry night” event for prospective students.
“They ask me to be on panels because they know I really care and want to keep the pipeline open” for Jenkins students at Bank of America, Jennings says. “I believe in the Jenkins MBA program. Because of the lessons and opportunities I had at Jenkins, I’m in the place where I am today.”
She wants to build on her experience to get to the executive level at Bank of America. “I want to be in charge of initiatives that help us keep top talent and communicate our values in terms of environmental, social and governance issues and diversity and inclusion,” Jennings says. “I want to be a leader who’s known as a champion for doing good in the world.”