July 29, 2020

Nicole Straub, Discover | Most Powerful Women: Next

Nicole Straub, Discover | Most Powerful Women: Next

Vice president, deposits marketing

Nicole Straub has a knack for getting inside the head of consumers, as her string of successes and six promotions over 13 years at Discover Financial Services attests. She brings a level of insight and empathy to her job that has demonstrably shaped businesses under her purview, from home loans to student loans and, since November 2019, deposit products.

Nicole Straub, Discover | Most Powerful Women: Next

“I think the financial products that we offer really have the power to unlock a lot of things for people,” Straub said. “So I get really passionate about trying to understand our consumers and their needs.”

That passion helped fuel a key initiative at Discover that goes beyond the products themselves. In her prior role as chief marketing officer for Discover Student Loans, which she held from 2016 to late 2019, Straub led the launch of Collegecovered.com after she and her team noticed a lack of resources to help consumers make informed decisions about student loans.

The web portal is designed to help not only high-school students and their parents, but also guidance counselors, through educational content, planning tools and calendars. “There are early stage decisions they can make that can change the overall expense of attending college,” Straub said.

While serving a critical need, the web portal also drives awareness of Discover Student Loans, a $10 billion portfolio that saw double-digit growth in origination volume during Straub’s tenure in marketing. Over the past four years, the business outpaced the market and competitors on its way to the No. 2 market share position, according to Kate Manfred, general manager of Discover Student Loans.

Straub is one of 15 executives selected for our second annual Next list. This extension of our Most Powerful Women in Banking program is meant to highlight high-achieving women in the leadership pipeline who are age 40 and under.

Straub describes herself as nimble when it comes to solving problems or reacting to change, a skill she brought to bear last year when developing pricing strategy to fend off fintechs entering the student loan space. Being able to adapt quickly is particularly crucial in student lending, since much of the work gets compressed into the summertime as students ramp up for the fall semester.

“You need to be agile and understand the facts going in and have a couple different possible scenarios that could play out so that you’re ready to respond,” Straub said.

We expect Nicole to be at the forefront of driving growth for the organization going forward.

Kate Manfred, general manager, Discover Student Loans

Moving to different businesses at Discover has kept her challenged and growing, and for that she is thankful. Being able to thrive in such diverse environments is something she learned in childhood, as her father’s job in international finance prompted moves to Europe and four states. “I’ll figure out a way to learn what I need to, build relationships over again and really thrive wherever I’m planted,” she said.

To help ensure that those behind her also have the opportunity to thrive, Straub helped found the Young Professionals Organization at Discover, one of the company’s most-popular employee resource groups, and helps lead and host women’s events. “I think mentorship and sponsorships have been the responsibility of one formally assigned relationship,” but she suggests the industry in general consider what she believes would be a more effective approach, one where all the leaders at a company are held responsible for developing employees.

Nominating executive:

Kate Manfred
General manager, Discover Student Loans

What she said:

Straub is “one of the most promising vice presidents at Discover” because of her ability to inspire and motivate teams and attract and mentor new talent. She is also skilled at harnessing “the power of technology and next generation marketing analytics,” Manfred said. “We expect Nicole to be at the forefront of driving growth for the organization going forward.”

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