Head of Transaction Banking for the Americas and Bay Area President | MUFG Union Bank

In 2017, it's critical that large foreign-owned banks have finely tuned eyes and ears in Silicon Valley. At Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the parent of MUFG Union Bank, those duties fall to Ranjana Clark.

From her base in San Francisco, Clark oversees the Japanese banking giant's digital transformation team, which is based in northern California. And she serves as a nexus between U.S. and Tokyo colleagues on emerging technologies.

Clark is a 34-year veteran of the financial industry who had done stints at PayPal, Western Union, Wachovia and Deutsche Bank, before joining MUFG Union in 2013.

After Clark's arrival, the U.S. holding company, MUFG Americas, participated in a $10.5 million funding round in Coinbase, the electronic wallet and trading platform for digital currencies. That bet has paid off handsomely; Coinbase was recently valued at $1.6 billion.

Today, Clark is particularly excited about the new possibilities that artificial intelligence is presenting to the financial services industry. "Clients are seeking more of a self-service model to access information and perform operations," she said.

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To go along with her executive responsibilities here in the U.S., last year Clark became one of the first two women globally to become an executive officer at the Tokyo-based parent company.

She sees progress being made on gender diversity at the middle levels of the industry, but said that it remains slow at the top ranks. "Few candidates have every skill set," Clark said. "They may have 80% to 90% of the expertise for a position. However, I've seen the expectation that women need to have a 100% skill set before people will take chances on them. This point of view needs to change."

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack

Kevin Wack is a California-based reporter for American Banker who covers the U.S. consumer finance industry.