Susan Fedele is a global banker who earned her stripes from the ground up.

This year, the 43-year-old Ms. Fedele reached a new height in her two-decades-long career, becoming the first woman to be appointed vice chairman of the U.& Council of International Bankers, a trade group of 360 correspondent banks, both U.S.- and foreign-owned, with offices in the United States. Members include the money-center and superregional banks.

Group Has Gained Recognition

In 1994, Ms. Fedele takes over from as chairman from Dennis Noah, the chairman-elect who takes off-ice next month.

The normally low-profile organization has been in the spotlight recently as it works with groups like the United Nations Council on International Trade Law to hammer out legal and operational standards in areas such as letters of credit and cross-border electronic data interchange and check process%

"We're as big and as effective as the American Bankers Association, but we haven't really touted our successful said Ms. Fedele.

She has been active in the Council of International Bankers, since the late 1970s, and was named to its board of directors of in 1990.

Since 1989, Ms. Fedele has been general manager of Philadelphia International Bank's New York, Houston, and Los Angeles off ices. PIB is the operations arm of Philadelphia National Bank, handling wire transfer and trade services. Philadelphia National Bank is owned by CoreStates Financial Corp.

Ms. Fedele started her career right out of high school in 1967 as a letter-of-credit clerk at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co.

Degree Earned at Night School

The Brooklyn-born daughter of a truck dispatcher, Ms. Fedele decided to go to college seven years later, paying her own way at Fordham University, where she studied economics at night while working in trade services at the New York off ice of Philadelphia International Bank.

This week, Ms. Fedele was working overtime moving funds transfer operations out of an office building in New York that was flooded by a severe storm that hit the Northeast on Dec. 11.

In her 18 years at PIB, she worked to improve the quality of wire transfers, with projects such as setting up an automated system in the early 1980s to track errors and find out how they were made. The result is an error rate web under 1%, Ms. Fedele said.

"We're smaller than the money-center banks, so we have to put a high emphasis on quality," she said.

An Attitude that Wins Respect

Her work ethic inspires loyalty in employees. "She has respect for all levels of employees," said Carla Heiken, an assistant vice president and facilities designer at CoreStates. Ms. Heiken became Ms. Fedele's friend after they worked together to organize the Philadelphia International Bank's New York office.

"Usually, when I'm walking around with a manager in an office, everyone puts their heads down and it gets very quiet," she said.

"When I walked around with Susan, the whole place came alive. Everyone wanted to talk to her."

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