Magazine article American Banker

The Women to Watch: No. 4, Citi's Yolande Piazza

Magazine article American Banker

The Women to Watch: No. 4, Citi's Yolande Piazza

Article excerpt

Byline: Penny Crosman

CEO, Citi FinTech, Citigroup

When Yolande Piazza stepped in as interim leader of Citi FinTech in August 2016, it was a critical time for the Citigroup unit. The previous CEO, Heather Cox, had left for USAA and the unit, formed in 2015, had yet to roll out a product.

"Yolande was under enormous pressure to deliver our first product launch," said Linda Duncombe, the chief marketing officer for Citi FinTech, who at the time had just come on board. "Under Yolande's leadership, we delivered on schedule and under budget."

The "product" delivered in December consists of several features for the Citi mobile banking app that let customers do things like open brokerage accounts and trade; reach a banker with one click; log in with biometric authentification, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition; and transfer funds globally between Citi accounts and linked checking and brokerage accounts using just an account number.

One reason the transition was smooth is Piazza was already part of Citi FinTech -- she was the chief operating officer.

She got the CEO job permanently in March, and is happy with it. "It's not often that you find a role where even on the weekends, you're anxious to get back to it," she said. "I love what I'm doing."

Citi FinTech has the trappings of a tech startup -- an open-plan office, ping pong tables and beanbag chairs. Failures are celebrated with champagne. Work is driven by small teams with coaching from entrepreneurs-in-residence. Ideas are rapidly tested with customers and then evaluated, and potentially funded, by venture capital-like boards within Citi, called "growth boards. …

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