Interview With Newly Appointed Chairman & CEO of SunTrust Banks Atlanta Allison Dukes

Thressea Boyd

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

SunTrust Banks, Inc. announced that Allison Dukes, Atlanta Division president has been named the Atlanta Division chairman and CEO, succeeding Jenner Wood, who has been named corporate executive vice president, reporting to Mark Chancy, SunTrust Wholesale Banking executive. Both appointments were effective Oct. 22.

Dukes will continue in her role as president of SunTrust Banks Atlanta Division, along with the additional responsibilities as the chairman and CEO. Dukes will report to Beau Cummins, Commercial and Business Banking executive.

A native of Atlanta, Dukes began her career at SunTrust in 1997, where she served as an analyst in corporate banking. She has held various leadership positions in corporate and investment banking, finance, and private wealth management including managing director and head of syndicated finance originations for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and chief financial officer of Consumer Banking and Private Wealth Management. 

“I am excited and privileged to be in this position and represent SunTrust, especially in my hometown of Atlanta,” said Dukes. “In my new role I am responsible for setting the tone for SunTrust in the Atlanta marketplace. I will also handle delivering our team approach to clients, specifically focusing on privately owned companies in the commercial market.”

Dukes said that SunTrust approaches commercial banking as a partnership and provides a team of experts within each of the industries it represents including restaurants, aging services, consumer products, and healthcare. 

For example, Dukes explains that SunTrust has a team of commercial bankers focused on the Atlanta restaurant market. The team is familiar with all aspects of food service and distribution and understands the different financial and business needs of the restaurant industry. 

“This expertise helps us understand that underwriting a loan for a fast food restaurant is very different from a single fine dining restaurant,” Dukes said. “The team understands procurement and exposure to commodities associated with the food industry. We are creating a focus that benefits our clients because we are much more responsive to their needs; this also helps develop creative ideas and solutions that our clients might not have considered.” 

Dukes said she is excited to continue her banking career in Atlanta and appreciates the city’s vibrant and growing economic structure.

“Atlanta is an exciting market. It is the third largest city, as far as Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in Atlanta, and this status alone means you have a lot of industries that are attracted to our city, a lot of capital paying attention to Atlanta,” Dukes said. “Exciting things are happening within the technology community in Atlanta with incubators and startups, and that is attracting more capital to Atlanta. People are paying attention.”  

With Georgia’s continued economic growth and employment opportunities, especially in the Atlanta area, new industries and companies are locating to the city and creating new jobs.

“The population in Atlanta has grown faster than the population in the United States for a number of years,” said Dukes. “This has led to the rise in the median household income as well. It is a great place to live and attracts employees because it a great place to raise a family.”

She explains the positive growth in Georgia’s economy creates a productive system for banking.

“We can work with a lot of these businesses and help them achieve smart growth, as well as with consumers to help them along their journey of financial well-being,” said Dukes. “This is very important for SunTrust, it is our purpose, and the reason we exist is to light the way for financial well-being.”

With more than 18 years of banking experience, Dukes said she appreciates SunTrust’s focus on engaging clients at the local level.

“We have a value proposition that is unmatched, and that is the ability to engage at the local level in a very high-touch way,” she said. “I meet with two or three business clients a day to help deliver those unique solutions and ideas tailored to each client and their business. No two solutions look the same.”

Dukes graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University. She holds an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University where she graduated with honors from the Executive MBA program. She currently serves on the executive board of Junior Achievement of Georgia and the Women of Tocqueville Cabinet for the United Way.