EVP, Small and Medium-Size Enterprise Banking, Bank of the West

Michelle Di Gangi is quietly building Bank of the West into a force in small- and midsize-business lending.

For four straight years, the San Francisco bank has been the nation's fastest-growing lender to small and midsize firms, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., consistently posting double-digit growth in loan production and loan volume. Under Di Gangi, the $77 billion-asset Bank of the West has become an active Small Business Administration lender and now ranks No. 2 in the nation in originating the SBA's real estate-focused 504 loans. The unit generates 20% of Bank of the West's total loans and 23% of its deposits.

Di Gangi has expanded the business both the old-fashioned way — adding scores of new lenders — and the 21st-century way: leveraging technology.

The unit had just 50 employees when Di Gangi took it over in 2008; it now has more than 700.

Under Di Gangi, the division has also invested heavily in data analytics to, among other things, better understand the differences between highly profitable customers and not-so-profitable ones. Such information can be crucial to helping bankers determine cross-selling strategies, Di Gangi said.

Di Gangi also spearheaded a branch concept geared toward small and midsize firms and their owners' needs. The first opened in Seattle last year and turned a profit in record time for a de novo branch. Others have opened in Tacoma, Phoenix and San Diego.

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