Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 21, BNY Mellon's Michelle Neal

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CEO | BNY Mellon Markets

Being in the forefront of change is nothing new for Michelle Neal, who became president of BNY Mellon Markets in November 2015, when the group itself was little more than a year old.

Neal now has the CEO title for her unit, which is one of fastest-growing businesses at BNY Mellon. Upon getting that role in June, she also was appointed to the company's executive committee.

The role entails oversight of activities such as foreign exchange, securities finance, global collateral management and liquidity services.

Neal's first task when she arrived at BNY Mellon from Deutsche Bank was to set the strategic course for the markets business. The new role didn't seem like an "obvious fit" initially, but the match was in the type of leader needed, she said.

"I came to learn BNY Mellon was looking for a change agent with extensive experience running platform businesses," Neal said. "The company was looking for a leader to come in and run the markets business as a next-generation platform. I am doing that."

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Among the changes she has introduced is the development of DBVX, a peer-to-peer collateral trading platform acquired by BNY Mellon in 2016. DBVX aims to bring collateral providers together with cash providers electronically.

Talent development is also a focus, and, Neal said, women especially are vital to BNY Mellon's growth.

"Many women are 'lost' from the industry at the vice president level," either because they encounter a dearth of opportunities or decide to have children, she said. "Some prefer to take more time off, putting them in a difficult position professionally, while those who want to stay involved in deals throughout their maternity leave may encounter certain barriers."

Neal said she has had success in helping women navigate these kinds of career obstacles. "Whenever I sense I can help, I step in."

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