Chief Information Officer, Technology and Operations Executive, KeyCorp

On her desk Amy Brady has a little stone inscribed with the words, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

The stone was a gift from a co-worker and the quote is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. To Brady, the message is a reminder to demonstrate the characteristics she wants to see in the community, in her family and at work.

"This powerful quote from Gandhi reminds us that we are in charge of the change — both in how we respond to it and what we create," said Brady, who as head of technology for KeyCorp is caught up in a lot of change herself.

In the last year, Key, under Brady's direction, has made several noteworthy choices as it looks to be a standout amid the digital changes that banks are facing. These moves include finding a niche in commercial payments, seeking out fintech partnerships and fostering innovation internally.

One of the biggest projects Key has underway is that it is about to become the first U.S. bank to implement the Oracle banking platform, technology that promises to make it easier to stay current on the digital front. As Brady describes it, the platform is designed to allow Key to pivot quickly, implementing changes as needed without having to wait for an all-inclusive overhaul.

A year into the process of switching to this new platform, Key announced it would acquire the $40 billion-asset First Niagara Financial Group. Facing a major integration, Brady chose to accelerate the platform implementation rather than delay it. That way, First Niagara customers would transition to the new digital experience soon after coming on board. The deal closed in late July and the conversion is expected to take place this quarter.

Brady, who oversees a $600 million budget and more than 4,500 Key employees, also has sought to encourage grass-roots innovation and a culture of continuous improvement. That effort entails sponsoring hackathons and launching an internal website where employees can submit ideas. Last year Key got 550 ideas and implemented 233 of them. "The ideas run the gamut, but they show that every idea is welcomed here," she said.

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