Although Mary Tuuk doesn’t spell it out this way, she seems to have built a successful career on three factors. First, while she believes strongly in passion, she is not a big believer in drama. Second, she has the ability to successfully adapt to change. And, third, she continually looks for opportunities to add value.

Tuuk is executive vice president and chief risk officer for Fifth Third Bancorp, making her the corporation’s highest-ranking woman officer. She is an advisory board member to the Fifth Third Women’s Network and is the lone woman on the bank’s Enterprise Committee. This year, the bank named her its nominee for U.S. Banker’s annual ranking of the top 25 women in banking. All of this is impressive, but it is her quiet confidence that fellow employees most note. Tuuk tries to bring out this quality when coaching others, particularly women, something she loves to do.

For Tuuk, quiet confidence is a balanced confidence: You know your position. You know your facts. And you express yourself in a manner that does not go over the line in terms of being dramatic or intimidating.

"Often employees in the earlier stages of career development will walk into that (senior level) setting and immediately feel intimidated and overwhelmed," says Tuuk. She sets up role-playing situations with them so they learn to demonstrate balanced confidence.

"Mary has taught me how to be a leader by helping me navigate through some of the unwritten rules of the corporate world," says Debbie Kossuth, vice president and fraud solutions and strategy manager. "She has had an immeasurable impact on my career."

"Many female employees seek her out, knowing that she is a top executive of the company and an approachable one who is willing to impart her wisdom," adds Stacie Haas, vice president and public relations manager. "Mary is also known to seek out employees to mentor, ones she calls high potential employees whom she believes could really make a difference at the company with a guiding hand."

As for her own career, Tuuk says she is most proud of her ability to adapt to change. The Michigan native, who earned her J.D. and M.B.A. from Indiana University, began her career as an associate in a law firm. From there she ultimately moved to Fifth Third, working her way up through various positions.

"I have had to adapt to changes in the work environment and in industry trends," says Tuuk. "I think that is key to the ability to move forward."

Along the way, Tuuk consistently looked for opportunities to add value.

"If someone comes to me with a problem, or if I find an issue, the first thing I think is this is an opportunity to add value," says Tuuk. "I can make a difference here."

The qualities and approaches that make Tuuk successful at Fifth Third are contributing to her success as a community volunteer. Tuuk has a strong love for the arts. She is a vocalist, singing with the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, and a musician. She serves on the board of trustees for the Cincinnati Opera and works annually on the drive for the Cincinnati Fine Arts Fund. She calls music "a necessary feed into her soul."

When advising young people beginning their careers, Tuuk says, "Be open to every unexpected opportunity because it probably represents an unexpected door to the future. Never impose limits on your ability to achieve."

This is advice that Tuuk has well heeded.