The Women to Watch: No. 12, Citizens Bank of Edmond's Jill Castilla

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President, CEO, Vice Chairman, Citizens Bank of Edmond

Here's the kind of influence Jill Castilla has in community banking circles.

Dozens of times each year, Castilla, the president, CEO and vice chairman of Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma, is invited to speak to banking groups who are eager to hear her thoughts on topics ranging from her leadership approach to the need for more women in C-suites.

While traveling, Castilla will often visit with other community bankers who might want to pick her brain about her bank's tech innovations or unique marketing strategies or her social media prowess. And on those visits, she frequently carves out time to meet with younger workers — usually women — with whom she has connected over social media and now mentors remotely.

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Castilla, whose bank has just $267 million of assets and only one full-service branch, is so in demand because of the energy and fresh thinking she brings to the role of the bank CEO. In an increasingly competitive financial services marketplace, tiny Citizens is thriving, thanks largely to tech innovations Castilla has pioneered — like a recently opened unmanned branch that features wi-fi and meeting space for customers — and the loyalty it has built through Castilla's relentless promotion of the bank's customers and the broader Edmond community.

Castilla, who joined Citizens in 2009 and was promoted to CEO in early 2014, admits that when she first started speaking at conferences, she mostly saw it as an opportunity to build Citizens' brand.

More and more, though, she came to realize that it was an opportunity to advocate for more women in the corner office. Bank CEOs, most of whom are men, are always thinking about succession and one big reason community banks merge is because they have no clear successor, Castilla said.

"Speaking in front of these groups about my bank's story may not only inspire [CEOs] to think differently about their banks, but because it is me, a female bank CEO, standing on the stage, it may inspire them to think differently about who their successor may be," Castilla said. Moreover, she added, "it could result in more community banks avoiding M&A."

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