Richele Messick: 40 Under 40 2012

Communications Manager, Enterprise Community Banking, Wells Fargo

Richele Messick has been a tower of strength during turbulent times for the banking industry. She started out at Wells Fargo as an intern in 2002 and has risen to become one of its most trusted and valued associates. During 10 years at the company, she has served as a communications consultant for retail banking, wholesale banking, and corporate.

Messick has become a go-to person for the entire communications team of almost 200 professionals. Messick created and leads a 50-strong staff that focuses on proactive PR and joint approaches to key events, such as 9/11 communications, customer service week, and smarter credit initiatives. She has also been a main driver in the development of processes and tools to improve communications across the company, including a standardized news release approval process and a news release calendar.

Other key achievements have included the creation of a comprehensive communications plan for a major regulatory settlement involving the American Disabilities Act. She oversaw both internal and external communications and served as company spokeswoman on the issue. Her work resulted in minimal news coverage of a negative event and even positive positioning for Wells Fargo as a leader in accommodating those with disabilities.

Messick has helped steer Wells Fargo through one of the top issues facing banks today – the changing landscape for deposit products, including fees charged and value for money. She has acted as primary spokeswoman for issues such as overdraft charges, a service labeled a "payday lending product," cancellation of the debit-card usage fee, and a major lawsuit around the posting order for checks.

Colleagues say she is a prime example of how business acumen and knowledge make a more effective PR professional.

"Richele takes the time and has the intellectual capacity to truly understand the business," says Oscar Suris, EVP and head of corporate communication at Wells Fargo.

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