Most Powerful Women to Watch: Michele Trolli, M&T Bank

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Chief Technology and Operations Officer

When Apple unveiled the iPad in 2010, Michele Trolli saw an opportunity. She brought one of the new tablets to M&T Bank’s board of directors and asked for $40 million to develop a mobile banking platform.

“One of the directors kind of shook it, and said, ‘You mean to tell me that you think people are going to do their banking on this thing?’ ” she recalled. “In 2013, I went back to the board to share the work we had done on mobile banking, and I was able to pick up the iPhone and shake it back at the board and say, ‘750,000 customers are now doing their banking on this thing.’ ”

Trolli didn’t set out to pursue a career in banking. Instead, she earned a degree in computer science and became a coder before taking a job at Society Bank — now KeyBank — in Cleveland. “As a technician, the place you want to be is in the financial industry, because that’s when technology matters,” she said.

She is now leveraging her tech experience toward her goal of transforming M&T’s hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., into a leading regional tech hub. Last year, the $139 billion-asset M&T announced it was remodeling a building in downtown Buffalo to establish the Silicon Valley-esque M&T Tech Hub under Trolli’s leadership. The bank hopes it will help attract other tech organizations to the city.

Trolli, who has headed the bank’s tech team since 2014, is also in charge of starting an M&T “tech academy,” which will help bank employees as well as Buffalo residents sharpen their tech skills.

“There will be an opportunity for people to reinvent themselves here in the tech hub, and it’s not just M&T — the community will be able to use it,” she said. “And I hope when it’s up and operational, less-fortunate high schoolers or graduates in our community will be able to take advantage of it ... without charge.”

For the first time, American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking celebration is open to the whole financial community. Join us virtually October 6-8 to hear our 2020 honorees' stories and experiences. Register here.

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Digital banking M&T Bank Michele Trolli Women in Banking