The Women to Watch: No. 5, Citigroup's Yolande Piazza

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CEO Citi FinTech, Citigroup

As CEO of Citigroup's innovation lab, Citi FinTech, Yolande Piazza encourages her team to think boldly and to not take it personally when ideas are rejected. If team members expect to hear "yes" every time they propose an idea, she argues, then it means they aren't pushing hard enough.

It's a leadership style that is serving Citi well as the lab, on Piazza's watch, keeps rolling out groundbreaking technology.

In just the last two years, it redesigned the Citi mobile app to combine banking, trading and investing; rolled out a first-of-its-kind open banking platform that has led to partnerships with some 250 fintechs; developed a series of wealth management tools, including brokerage account opening, for Citi's mobile app; and launched a website, Canvas, where Citi customers can test new digital services before they hit the market and offer feedback to the developers.

Coming soon: a redesigned mobile app for Citi's U.S. retail bank that will include in-app account opening, a 360-degree view of all financial accounts — not just those with Citi —and tools for managing spending and encouraging saving.

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Piazza, a 31-year Citi veteran, was named CEO of the fintech arm in March 2017 after serving as interim CEO for seven months. She had previously been the unit's chief operating officer.

With a vast technology background — she was chief administrative officer for global consumer banking operations and technology for seven years — Piazza has been a powerful advocate for innovation. She is a sought-after speaker for industry events worldwide and she is currently serving a three-year term as chairwoman of Efma, a Paris-based nonprofit founded in 1971 that is dedicated to the reinvention of financial services. Piazza is the first person from a U.S.-based bank to chair the organization.

Piazza is passionate about bringing more young women into tech fields. She recently became global ambassador for a campaign developed by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women — better known as UN Women — that aims to help create more opportunities for women.

She also founded a program called "Future Women in IT" whose mission is to inspire girls in middle and high school to pursue careers in technology. Since its inception in 2014, the program has reached more than 33,000 young women in the U.S.

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