Career ladder: Pierce started her career in 1978 as a bank teller at National Bank of Detroit while attending Wayne State University. After graduating, she held roles in marketing, commercial banking, retail banking and wealth management at NBD and its successor organizations FirstChicago NBD, Bank One and J.P. Morgan Chase. After 27 years, Pierce joined Royal Bank of Scotland to manage its Charter One subsidiary in the Midwest from 2005 to 2012. She came to First Merit in 2013 upon its acquisition of Citizens Republic Bank.
Power metrics: As vice chairman of FirstMerit Corp., Pierce, 58, has direct responsibility for retail branches, the mortgage company, bank cards, facilities, wealth management and marketing. She also is chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Michigan and accountable for all FirstMerit activities in the state of Michigan. For the year ending 2015, the company had 4,500 employees, assets of $25.4 billion and net income of $229 million.
Super power: "I'm good at leveraging the talent of individuals to achieve more than they think they can."
Big win: "When I realized my professional success was because of my background not despite it, which eradicated my fear of failure and allowed me to chart my own path."
I recently learned: "To use my 17-year-old son's Hoverboard (which, believe me, is not easy, and I don't go fast)."
Board and community connections: Chairman of the board, Henry Ford Health System, and chairman of the executive committee nominating committee and governance committee; chairman, Detroit financial advisory board, April 2012 through December 2014; vice chairman, Business Leaders for Michigan, and chairman of the audit committee; board member and past chairman of the board at The Parade Co. and member of the executive committee; board member and past chairman of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce; board member at Detroit Economic Club and member of the executive committee; board member of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and United Way, Southeast Michigan.
Power lesson: "My parents taught me every person you meet knows something you don't, so take the opportunity to learn." This allows people to grow professionally and personally, Pierce said. "Never be too confident in yourself, thinking you know everything, because you don't."
Surprising fact: "I grew up on Chene Street in Detroit in the flat above my parents' bar. I'm the youngest of 10 children and the only one to go to college. (My parents and siblings helped me financially)."
How do you assist other women? "If anyone in my company reaches out to ask for advice or counsel from me, I never refuse — ever. I recently hosted a mentor-mentee dinner. I asked women leaders in Michigan to attend and bring a mentee with them. We had more than 40 mentors and mentees and had a great evening."
Changes you have seen in how women wield power in Michigan or in your industry over the past 10 years: "We're seeing more women in CEO jobs in Michigan as well as the financial services industry, but I can still name them all. As long as I can name them all, we don't have enough. We need to be intentional about giving opportunities to qualified women and minorities for C-suite and board positions."
Next big goal: Following the recent announcement that FirstMerit is being acquired by Huntington Bank, Pierce's goal is to see that the transition is a positive experience for employees and customers.
Guilty pleasure: "I enjoy Better Made barbecue chips and margaritas (light on the tequila, no salt)."
Jennette SmithHere's how we produced this special section.
Jennette SmithWe view all of our honorees over the years as part of a "legacy list," some of whom should be considered as prospects for corporate and nonprofit board service.
Vickie ElmerNot that they have a lot of free time, but when they do, here's how the 100 Most Influential Women fill it.
Sherri WelchThe new study by Grand Valley State University of Fortune 500 boards shows a correlation between board diversity and healthier profits, and Michigan companies have ample opportunity to improve board diversity, the study's co-author says.
Staff Blog | Jennette SmithI've been living and breathing this project for months and got by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom and at companies across the state.
Staff Blog | Mary KramerThat's why Crain's Detroit Business has joined with the Michigan Women's Commission and Deloitte, among others, to create a path to help more companies find talent for their boards.
Crain's Detroit BusinessIn an effort to boost women's representation on for-profit corporate boards, Crain's Detroit Business on Tuesday night launched the Michigan Women's Directory. The launch coincided with the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan recognition event that was attended by about 700 people.