Large banks aren't the only financial institutions producing up-and-coming executives.
As part of its annual Most Powerful Women in Banking coverage, American Banker identified 25 female executives to watch, highlighting executives that people will want to keep an eye on going forward.
Five of those executives — Mary Ann Scully, Begonya Klumb, Jill Castilla, Liz Dukes Wolverton and Karen Glenn — represent banks with less than $30 billion in assets. Scully, Castilla and Glenn are their banks' leaders, while Klumb and Wolverton hold key strategic posts.
Every executive has a compelling story to tell. Here are their profiles.
Mary Ann Scully, chairman, president and CEO, Howard Bank
The last two years have been transformative ones for Howard Bank in Ellicott City, Md., and much of the credit goes to Mary Ann Scully, its chairman, president and chief executive.
Though the bank had been growing steadily since Scully founded it in 2004, her acquisition of a failed bank in late 2014, and another purchase of a Baltimore bank, roughly doubled its asset size and branch count, moved it into several new markets in the greater Baltimore area and significantly raised Howard's profile with investors. Today, Howard has 13 branches, its assets are creeping toward $1 billion and its market capitalization is hovering around $90 million, up from less than $60 million at the end of 2014.
Scully also has proven to be adept at taking advantage of market disruption to attract top talent. Not long after Carrollton Bank in Baltimore merged with local rival Bay Bank, Scully brought in Carrollton's former CEO, Robert Altieri, to build up Howard's mortgage-lending operations.
More recently, she recruited four top commercial lenders from BB&T, including Maryland Regional President James Witty, to strengthen commercial lending. All four had been with Susquehanna Bancshares, which BB&T acquired late last year.
Scully, a longtime executive with the former Allfirst Bank before founding Howard, is one of Maryland's most-respected banking and business leaders. She is a former chairman of the Maryland Bankers Association, serves on the board of the Baltimore Federal Reserve and two years ago was named to a newly formed state commission that recommends ideas for improving Maryland's business climate. Last year, the Daily Record, a Baltimore business newspaper, named Scully one of its "Most Influential Marylanders" for the third time.
Scully is also a powerful advocate for women in business. She is a frequent speaker at women's banking events and since 2007 has been actively involved with Network 2000, a women's networking group.
Begonya Klumb, CEO, UMB Healthcare Services, UMB Financial
One secret to Begonya Klumb's success is that she is constantly challenging herself.
Case in point: even with a highly demanding job, two young children and scores of volunteer commitments, Klumb recently returned to school to become a licensed certified public accountant. Her thinking was that formal accounting training would improve her understanding of financial reporting and risk management, making her a better, more effective leader.
She hoped, too, that having accounting expertise would prepare her to someday serve on the board of a publicly traded company.
"I wanted to continue with my career advancement and see how far I could push myself," Klumb explained.
Not surprisingly, Klumb passed the four exams on her first try. She expects to receive her CPA license by the end of the year.
Klumb has been chief executive of the $19.7 billion-asset UMB Financial's Healthcare Services division since June 2015. While she has held a number of executive posts since joining the Kansas City, Mo., company UMB in 2003 — including chief strategy officer and head of investor relations — this is the first in which she has overseen a revenue-generating business line.
She is making the most of the opportunity. Her unit manages health savings accounts and, in the short time she has run it, total accounts have increased by about 35%, to 826,000, and assets under management have increased by more than 40%, to about $1.5 billion.
Under Klumb, Healthcare Services has invested heavily in technology, hiring a dedicated team of more than 30 IT professionals in an effort to improve the digital experience for customers and more quickly bring products to market. Among its innovations has been a new tech platform that allows customers to manage their investments more easily.
Jill Castilla, vice chairman, president and CEO, Citizens Bank of Edmond
One of Jill Castilla's great strengths as a bank president is developing business without spending a whole lot of money on marketing.
Under Castilla, who became president and chief executive in early 2014, the $248 million-asset Oklahoma bank has won scores of fans — and customers — by creating and sponsoring a monthly street festival that has breathed new life into downtown Edmond.
It has helped to prop up local mom-and-pop shops by periodically giving its employees fistfuls of cash to spend at the stores.
And it has built a social media presence that most other banks can only envy. Castilla herself has more than 7,700 followers on Twitter, engaging them not by promoting the bank, but by highlighting goings-on in the community and its customers' success stories. She estimates that Citizens has added $40 million of loans and deposits over the last few years as a direct result of its social media presence.
"People bank with community banks because they know you, and through social media, they feel like they have met us" even when they haven't, Castilla told American Banker last year. "It's like going to a million chamber of commerce events and shaking everyone's hand."
Castilla has, in short order, become one of the industry's most visible community bankers. She speaks frequently at industry events — including one recently in Finland — about retail banking and branding strategies, and holds leadership, board or committee positions with a number of bank trade associations.
Castilla is also visible in the community serving on boards of business and charitable organizations — and she encourages employees to be active as well. As an incentive, the bank offers full-time employees up to five paid days off a year to use for community service or mission trips.
Liz Dukes Wolverton, chief strategy officer, Synovus Financial
Liz Wolverton, Synovus Financial's chief strategy officer, admits that she has not always been the best champion for women in the workplace.
As a high-level executive juggling multiple responsibilities while raising two children, Wolverton, who joined the $29 billion-asset Synovus in 2003, did not necessarily view mentoring other women as a high priority. Then last year she was named one of American Banker's 25 Women to Watch and, suddenly, up-and-coming female colleagues at Synovus were reaching out to her seeking advice on how to advance their careers.
Calling it "a lightbulb moment," Wolverton said she now understands how important it is for high-ranking women to make time to open doors for other females. Just recently, in fact, she encouraged one of her longtime team members to accept a leadership role in another division within Synovus — even though the employee herself didn't believe she was ready for it.
"It's my responsibility to use the role and influence that I have to help improve the path and development of rising female talent," she said.
Formerly Synovus' director of finance, Wolverton was named to the newly created post of chief strategy officer in 2014 and tasked with nothing less than designing a blueprint to reshape the company for the digital age and positioning it for long-term success.
Reporting directly to Chief Executive Kessel Stelling, Wolverton works closely with the heads of all business units to help set the strategy around everything from budgeting to the delivery of products and services to acquisition opportunities to capital deployment to community and customer relations. A big part of her job is also to nourish a "culture of collaboration" across the various business units to ensure that opportunities and needs identified by business heads align with Synovus' overall strategic plan.
One of Wolverton's favorite phrases is "attitude determines altitude." Smarts matter, of course, but Wolverton said that what she looks for most in employees is a positive attitude. "I would always rather have the most determined, encouraging, find-a-way person on my team than the smartest person in the room," she said.
Karen Glenn, president and CEO, First United Bank and Trust Co.
When the chief executive job at First United Bank and Trust opened up in 2010, Karen Glenn, then the Kentucky bank's chief financial officer, didn't bother to apply.
As a single mom to twin boys — one with autism, the other recovering from cancer treatments — Glenn felt she had as much responsibility as she could handle. Plus she lived nearly an hour away from the bank's Madisonville headquarters and the job required the chief executive to live and work in the community. "I didn't think the board would hire a blond, 38-year-old female from another community to run their company," Glenn said.
Then, in the midst of a nationwide search for a CEO, a board member encouraged Glenn to apply. She agreed and in a one-hour interview before the full (all-male) board, Glenn laid out her plan for how she would run the bank and improve its performance. Among her ideas: streamline management and shutter the unprofitable brokerage unit.
She was offered the job the next day. "I was speechless," Glenn said.
Glenn took over as president and CEO in July 2010. As CFO, Glenn hadn't been very visible, so one of her first priorities was introducing herself to the community and to customers. She moved the family to Madisonville, joined the local Rotary Club and chamber of commerce and became active in area nonprofits. Through a partnership she created between the bank and the city, Glenn became the driving force behind the construction of a new events plaza downtown.
"I went from a back-office-type job to being the face of the bank," she said.
Her challenge was figuring out how to expand the bank in a slow-growing community. At first, Glenn focused on managing expenses and lowering the bank's cost of funds, and her efforts there are big reasons First United enjoyed record profits last year and kept its net interest margin above 4%.
But cost-cutting can only take the bank so far, so last year Glenn made her boldest move to date with a deal to acquire the $85 million-asset Town & Country Financial in Beaver Dam, Ky. With that deal, the first in its 20-year history, First United boosted its assets by nearly 45%, to $275 million.