CHERYL KANE Vice president Bank of America, San Francisco

In an era of savage cost-cutting, senior executives more frequently than ever are scanning the management ranks and asking: "What have you done for me lately?"

In the case of Cheryl Kane, vice president of retail automation support at San Francisco-based Bank of America, the answer is: "Plenty."

A few years back, Ms. Kane, 37, delivered software to track equipment leases at a cost $2 million under budget - after others had fumbled the project and run up a tab of more than $5 million. Last year, she halved the working time of the banking company's 20 technology groups, chalking up further savings.

Currently, Bank of America is leaning heavily on Ms. Kane in an attempt to make its branch banking systems compatible with those of merger partner Security Pacific Corp.

"Cheryl serves in an unusual capacity," says Bruce Faddem, her boss, and a senior vice president at the bank. "We've taken critical technical support units and put them all together under her. That requires a special understanding of technology."

Ms. Kane heads an area that employs 175 people who stress-test all major new systems befor ethey are put into use. And she may soon take on fresh challenges as BankAmerica expands its retail empire.

She attributes her success to extra effort and an ability to wring maximum effort out of her subordinates.

"I like to look beyond the scope of my job, try to see things that are beyond my boundaries," she says.

At one time a mathematics major at California State University in Hayward, near San Francisco, Ms. Kane eventually jumped to accounting.

Ms. Kane has spent 15 of her 16 banking years at Bank of America.

"The state of the banking industry poses a real challenge to the technology organization," she says. "You need to be able to convert things quickly so that banks can be consolidated with others easily. That's not something we worried about a year ago."

What a difference a merger makes.

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