Most Powerful Women in Banking | Top Teams: Bank of the West

As part of American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program, we have selected five “Top Teams” for 2020. Bank of the West is one of the team honorees.

In the Top Teams category, each bank is evaluated based on:

  • The presence and influence of women in the senior ranks
  • The performance of women-led business units
  • Demonstrated commitment to and progress toward fostering diversity (and specifically female participation) in senior leadership and key roles with P&L responsibility
  • Improvements shown in the representation of women in the pipeline
  • Programs, policies and practices that are effective in fostering success in the areas above

Bank of the West
Headquarters: San Francisco, Calif.
Assets: $100 billion
Female representation among corporate officers: 31%*
Female representation on operating committee: 34%
*As of 2017 (updated percentage not provided)

Diversity Initiatives

One of the parity issues in banking is the lack of women in positions with profit-and-loss responsibility. As chief executive of Bank of the West, Nandita Bakhshi is addressing this by rethinking what her leadership team looks like and how its members get there. Bakhshi said she recognizes men are three times more likely than women to receive career information about P&L jobs. So with that in mind, she has made it a priority to identify women with the expertise and ability to advance who may not have had an opportunity to demonstrate that and create pathways for them to do so.

Selected executive highlights:

Michelle Di Gangi
Head of Small and Medium Enterprise Banking

Over the past 10 years, Di Gangi has led her department to become a key contributor to growth and profitability, representing 30% of Bank of the West's net income before tax, and nearly 25% of its total fee revenue in 2019.

She also helped develop and launch a website called WE Source that serves as a resource for female small-business owners, resulting in a 12% increase in these customers across all business lines.

Her plan to simplify the organizational structure, streamline processes and provide more customers with an assigned relationship manager contributed to the bank placing second in the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Small Business Banking Satisfaction Study, West Region.
Roxann Burns
Small and Medium Enterprise Group Credit Manager Verticals and Specialty

Burns was instrumental in coordinating the small-business customer loan applications for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program. Working closely with Di Gangi, she guided the efforts of employees who were processing and approving applications around the clock — including 600 people pitching in from other departments. Nearly 30% of the PPP loans went to businesses in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
Sheri Paulo
Chief Human Resources Officer

Bank of the West was named one of the "Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality in 2019," receiving a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2020 Corporate Equality Index, a benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices. This is the second year in a row that the bank has earned a perfect score. Paulo also managed to decrease the cost of health benefits for 70% of employees.
Anita Fox
Head of Corporate Communications and Events

Fox spearheaded the planning and execution of communications around the availability of the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and COVID-19-related safety and logistical concerns. She also worked to amplify the voices of Bank of the West's executives amid the crisis through videos, social media posts, and strategic public relations.
Nandita Bakhshi
President and CEO

One of Bakhshi's priorities is helping female entrepreneurs. To that end, the bank holds a weeklong leadership program at Stanford University every year; more than 150 businesswomen have attended so far.
The team
Nandita Bakhshi, Roxann Burns, Cathy Gaffigan, Michelle Di Gangi, Tami Farrow, Anita Fox, Meghan Leader, Sheri Paulo, Emma Pertat

See the other 2020 Top Teams:
Bank of America
U.S. Bancorp
Zions Bancorp.
Howard Bank