126. Susan E. Chapman-Hughes – Empathic Leadership


“Think about the leaders that you have admired the most in your career. What was it about them that made you get really excited about working with them? Usually it’s because they knew your name. Let’s start with the basics. They understood why you came to work every day. They invested in you. They could see things in you that you couldn’t see yourself. They wanted you to be successful, so they were rooting for you.” – Susan Chapman-Hughes

Guest Bio:

Susan Chapman-Hughes
Global C-Level Business Executive / Tech Industry Advisor / Corporate Board Director

A proven leader of transformation and innovation, Susan Chapman-Hughes most recently was the EVP/GM of Global Digital Capabilities, Transformation and Operations (GDCT&O) in the Global Commercial Services (GCS) division at American Express where she led the digital transformation of customer experience and drove the use of big data, predictive analytics and machine learning to power the business Go to Market strategy.

Prior to her tenure in GDCT&O, she led the GCS U.S. Large Market Business, leading the business from decline to double digit growth and significantly improving NPS, and, as head of Global Real Estate and Workplace Enablement, led the groundbreaking and award-winning global workspace transformation (Bluework). A driver of innovation and business efficiency efforts, Susan’s teams have been recognized by multiple Chairman’s Awards for Innovation. Prior to American Express, she held many key senior roles for Fortune 500 companies in financial services and technology.

She is an advisor to many pre-ipo (seed through late stage) and public companies specializing in go to market and human capital strategies/plans as well as building business scale. She currently serves as an advisor to companies in the Web3/Crypto, Healthcare Transformation and Consumer Beauty Technology sectors.

Ms. Chapman-Hughes is an independent director of the J.M. Smucker Company (SJM) where she chairs the Compensation Committee. She is also an independent director of Toast where she chairs the Compensation Committee and serves on the Nominating and Governance Committee. Previously, she served as an independent Director for Potbelly Corporation (PBPB) where she led both the Compensation and Audit Committees.

She has received many accolades for leadership including being named one of “The Elite 100” by Diversity Woman, one of the Most Influential Women in Payments, by PaymentsSource, “Grio 100” by Grio.com/NBC Universal and as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company.

In addition to her professional roles, Ms. Chapman-Hughes is committed to volunteer work for non-profit
community development organizations across the United States and remains an active mentor to young people in her community. She is a member of the Board of the New York Junior Tennis League. She is a Trustee Emeriti of The National Trust for Historic Preservation and previously held trustee positions with A Better Chance, and Girls Inc.

Ms. Chapman-Hughes holds a Master of Business Administration in Real Estate and Urban Land Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds a Master of Regional Planning from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Ms. Chapman-Hughes resides in New York with her husband and daughter.

R.O.G. Takeaway Tips:

  • Ask yourself these questions as you reflect on your leadership:
    • Are you consistent? 
    • Are you trustworthy? 
    • Are you authentic? 
    • Are you vulnerable/real?
  • Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Be willing to receive feedback.
  • Be open to receiving help when needed.
  • Stretch yourself for growth by stepping out of your comfort zone and gaining new experiences.
  • Check in with yourself regularly to ensure you have the right processes in place for success.


Coming Next:

Episode 127, Building Bridges Coaching Tips for Generous Leaders with Shannon Cassidy.


Susan Chapman-Hughes, Sheep Jam Productions, Host Shannon Cassidy, Bridge Between, Inc.

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