The 25 MPWIB

#12 Ellen M. Costello

Print
Email
Reprints
Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Google+

Ellen Costello took a winding path to the top-through corporate banking, Treasury, securitization, credit investment management and merchant banking.

Eventually all those jobs added up to one big title for Costello: president and CEO of Harris Financial Corp., a unit of Toronto's BMO Financial Group.

Costello, who joined Harris in 1983, credits her diverse experience with helping her ascend to the helm of the Chicago banking company.

She eventook several international positions over the years. One of Costello's favorite parts in her banking career was getting to work in great cities: Hong Kong, New York, and Montreal.

"The thing that really drives me is learning," she says. "And this has been a great place for that. I'm in a big organization and I can play different roles."

Costello acknowledges that the four years since she took the reins at Harris have been a particularly tough time to be the boss. When she became CEO in August 2006,housing prices were at their peak in the market Harris serves. The 1.2 million consumers and businesses in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin who bank at Harris had rough going after the real estate market and the economy tanked, as did employees themselves.

"It's a lot more rewarding to be able to help someone buy a house" than to see if they can avoid foreclosure, she says.

When asked about the most distasteful part of being CEO, Costello has an immediate reply: "Too many meetings."

She is just as quick with her favorite part: "Working with a great team."

Her advice to anyone who wants to advance in banking is threefold: Perform above expectations and seek a lot of feedback to be sure that is the case. Collaborate unselfishly. And be willing to take risks.

SEE MORE IN

Women in Banking

Find out how to be recognized as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking, 25 Women to Watch, 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance or Top Teams in Banking. Application deadline is May 30.
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
LINKEDIN
Marketplace
Fiserv is a leading global provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry.
Learn More
Informa Research Services is the premier provider of competitive intelligence, mystery shopping, and compliance testing services to the financial industry.
Learn More
CSC is a leader in private-label, third-party loan servicing with 30+ years of proven experience in delivering effective, cost-effective solutions.
Learn More
Already a subscriber? Log in here
Please note you must now log in with your email address and password.