2023 CFO of the Year: Michele Kawiecki

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(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Chief Financial Officer | First Merchants Bank  

Michele Kawiecki joined First Merchants Bank nearly nine years ago as senior vice president of treasury and accounting. In 2021, when the bank’s chief financial officer transitioned to CEO, Kawiecki became CFO. In that role, she manages 125 locations, leading accounting, financial planning and analysis, corporate treasury, business intelligence, physical security, fraud, and facilities. She also manages investor relations and communications among other responsibilities. She was recently involved in the company’s decision to move its headquarters from Carmel to Indianapolis. 

Major accomplishments
Kawiecki led the company through the Silicon Valley Bank debacle earlier this year by maintaining a strong financial foundation. She also created a data-governance process and matured the data analytics program. In the bank’s move to Indianapolis, she identified strategic partners to pursue a new location and building upgrade, which is expected to provide cost savings to the company. “This is one of many examples of how Michele’s deliberate contemplation, attentiveness and determination prove her fruitful leadership as CFO,” her nomination reads.

Challenges overcome
The banking crisis. “When I reflect on that time earlier in the year, I am reminded how our executive team faced that time of concern incredibly level-headed,” she said. “We worked together as a team to make thoughtful decisions and communicate regularly with all stakeholders.” 

Career path
She started her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an audit manager, then transitioned to banking at UMB Financial Corp. in Kansas City, Missouri. She joined First Merchants Bank in 2015.

My job would be easier if …
“I could snap my fingers, and the data everyone wanted to see would appear.”•

Check out more CFO honorees.

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