Cecelia "Cece" Stewart
President, U.S. consumer and commercial banking, Citigroup

The advice Cece Stewart got early in her career from her mentor at the former First Union never gets old. She still practices what she learned from Flo Phillips and shares some of the same advice with her team at Citigroup.

"Flo gave direct, tough feedback. She once told me that if I couldn't be 'on' when out in the field, then I should not be out with field teams," says Stewart. "I tell my team today-you always need to be 'on.'" And it is, judging by the metrics Stewart has amassed since joining Citi in January 2011.

Though the number of branches shrank 4 percent last year, she has presided over growth in average deposits, average loans, investment sales and mortgage originations. It isn't just a healing economy that deserves credit. Citi's research indicates that in many business lines, the growth outpaced that of peer banks.

One of the changes Stewart credits is a new effort to hold all staff accountable for customer satisfaction. The initiative includes coaching employees on key behaviors that promote satisfaction, such as making customers feel appreciated. Branch optimization is another priority.

As Citi shed branches in markets where it lacked scale, Stewart began reinvesting the savings elsewhere, opening 14 locations last year, including a flagship in New York. She also had a portion of the company's roughly 1,000 branches renovated.

Hectic though it is, Stewart still keeps in touch with Phillips, who is retired now. Stewart says she still considers her a mentor. "Flo demonstrated the kind of impact that a caring, engaged person could have on your career. I have always tried to emulate that."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.