The Women to Watch: No. 7, TD Bank's Ellen Patterson

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Group Head and General Counsel, TD Bank Group

Another year, another promotion for TD Bank Group's Ellen Patterson.

Patterson, who had been general counsel at the Toronto company, became a group head late last year. The promotion was Patterson's third since joining the company in 2012 as general counsel of its U.S. subsidiary, TD Bank.

In addition to overseeing all the legal and compliance functions for the $985 billion-asset global banking giant, Patterson now serves on the senior executive team, which is responsible for setting overall strategy. She is one of 10 group heads, and one of three women, reporting directly to President and CEO Bharat Masrani.

In a statement, Masrani praised Patterson's "sharp mind and strategic approach to problem solving" and said that she is "passionate" about helping others in the organization succeed.

"Like all exemplary leaders, Ellen is committed to developing the people around her to enable them to be their best and do their best," he said.

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Patterson said that a big part of leadership is showing up, and conveying that message to up-and-coming leaders at TD is a priority. Whenever she travels — and she travels extensively — Patterson doesn't just stick to scheduled meetings and roundtables; she drops in on lunch-and-learns, diversity and inclusion events and even volunteer activities, all in an effort to get to know colleagues on a more personal level.

"We have great new communications tools like well-functioning video communications, and enhanced ability to use video on the intranet for periodic communications. But old-fashioned, in-person connection still matters," said Patterson, who was also one of our Women to Watch last year. "Even though people have more flexibility in where and how they work, they still want to feel a personal connection to a team."

Another of Patterson's priorities is helping the legal and compliance teams improve their knowledge of all things technology.

Her group has created a series of courses and web seminars that are designed to give the roughly 1,400 employees she oversees a better understanding of such emerging technologies as biometrics, artificial intelligence and open banking and how they will continue to change they ways consumers and businesses interact with their banks.

"As my team hears me say regularly, you can't advise on it or oversee it if you don't understand it," Patterson said.

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