The mere thought of their checking account balance makes a lot of people shudder. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, roughly one third of Americans aren’t fiscally prepared for an unexpected emergency; 33 percent of families at all income levels have no savings at all. During her time as group vice president and manager of IT digital delivery at SunTrust, Diana Caplinger sought to address those issues by making the topic of financial literacy accessible and fun.
Caplinger spearheaded SunTrust’s OnUp Movement, which consists of OnUp.com, a website containing free money management resources; the OnUp Experience, an interactive, baseball-themed space at the Battery Atlanta that tests participants’ Braves knowledge and economic chops; and the OnUp Tour, a traveling initiative that engages guests in conversations regarding their financial confidence. Based on those accomplishments, Caplinger received Women in Technology’s 2018 Woman of the Year Award.
While serving as group VP at SunTrust, Caplinger completed Robinson’s Executive MBA program. Since graduating in 2014, she has earned promotions, most recently becoming head of digital discovery and marketing technology at Truist (the result of SunTrust’s merger with BB&T).
“The degree helped me understand how I could leverage my technology skills to drive incremental revenue and business-focused solutions,” Caplinger said.
The EMBA program included some pretty unconventional exercises—like an earthquake simulation. While shut in a room and timed, Caplinger and six classmates could perform a limited number of steps (examples: turn off the water, store food) in order to survive.
“It was a critical thinking leadership activity,” Caplinger explained. “We made decisions as a group.”
Another unique project: a modern application of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. Caplinger’s professor wrote instructions on the board, informed his students they would be recorded from three different angles and left the room for four hours. Shortly, groupthink kicked in, and small alliances formed.
“Afterwards, we watched ourselves and learned a lot about our behavior, down to our facial expressions and body language,” Caplinger said. “It was really eye-opening.”
Other than the Woman of the Year Award, Caplinger’s biggest career accomplishment to date involves running SunTrust’s Consumer Technology Administrative team. Maybe her experience with dodging earthquakes and group imprisonment had something to do with that.
“I ran a large book of business and supported the mortgage, digital, retail and private wealth technology teams,” Caplinger said. “I had to coordinate budgets and try to be innovative while delivering cost savings.”