Most Powerful Women to Watch: Mary McNiff, Citigroup
Chief Compliance Officer
When the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic in March, Mary McNiff was fully occupied as the chief executive of Citibank, leading business operations in 95 countries across five continents. Nonetheless, she found time to become a part-time manufacturer.
McNiff — who has since become chief compliance officer at parent company Citigroup — and her two daughters, Caitlin and Jessica, used a 3D printer in their home to make more than 1,000 ear protectors they donated to front-line workers at hospitals in Connecticut. “We spent hours attaching the elements to hair bands for use with face masks, but it was so rewarding to help our essential workers and give them some comfort while wearing masks all day long,” she said.
McNiff’s can-do attitude is evident in her career journey, which began 32 years ago when she was a hired to be an auditor at Abbey National Bank in London. She has since held audit manager, director and chief jobs at JPMorgan Chase, Barclays Bank and Lloyds Banking Group. She spent 15 months as CEO of Citibank, an operating unit within Citigroup that accounts for approximately 75% of the global banking giant’s nearly $2 trillion of assets.
During that time, she led the shift to an agile style of project management, drove governance initiatives to improve safety and soundness and implemented a framework for oversight of all key programs. The enterprisewide program set a foundation for the company to further implement best practices.
Since 2018, McNiff has also been co-lead of Citi’s Hispanic/Latino heritage affinity group, helping employees develop as leaders — a surprising role, she has said, for a British woman of Irish descent. But McNiff is animated by her love for Hispanic culture, which she acquired while in a regional role for Citi in Latin America and Mexico.
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