Bita Ardalan
Managing Director, Head of U.S. Middle-Market Banking, MUFG Union Bank

Bita Ardalan is MUFG Union Bank's go-to executive for starting and building new business lines or turning around existing ones — with good reason.

In 2010 she was asked to head a nascent specialty-lending division and by 2013 it was the fastest-growing commercial lending unit at the bank. In mid-2013 she was charged with combining a group of underperforming commercial lending units throughout the Western states into a single division and, in her first full year at the helm, the unit's assets, revenues and deposits all grew by double digits, while expenses decreased 10%.

Now Ardalan has a new title: head of U.S. middle-market banking. The San Francisco-based MUFG Union aims to become more of a national player and key to that strategy is building its base of middle-market clients.

Colleagues say Ardalan, who joined the bank as a management trainee in 1986, is consistently given the most challenging assignments because she has a unique ability to quickly size up a situation and put the right people in place to execute on her vision. Her immediate boss, commercial banking head Michael Stedman, says Ardalan also strives for "continuous improvement" by seeking out new revenue opportunities and finding creative ways to improve efficiency.

Ardalan's stature at MUFG Union has grown to the point where she is now in on strategy planning at the highest levels. Last year she was one of 22 executives selected to help find revenue enhancements at the bank and, more recently, she was invited to Tokyo to participate in the parent company's prestigious Global Leadership Forum. The forum brings together select senior executives from across the Japanese banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to identify global business opportunities and brainstorm solutions to its most pressing problems.

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