BNY Mellon CIO Lucille Mayer partners for success
She is leading exciting change at the global investments company. But she’s also a leader in helping women achieve leadership – and helping everyone achieve success
Lucille Mayer refers to the eight people who report to her as “partners.”
“Their success is my success,” she explains. “My goal is always to engage and I’m very collaborative. I have high expectations, but it’s a two-way street. There are things they expect from me and I have a responsibility to deliver too.”
Mayer is chief information officer (CIO) of client experience delivery (CED) at global investments company BNY Mellon (New York, NY). Her eight direct reports or “partners” are responsible for teams that include almost 900 others, including technology developers, technology product managers, project managers, business analysts and other professionals.
“BNY Mellon has a considerable investment in technology and the business innovations tied to it,” Mayer says. “We have more than 13,000 global technologists and we invest $2 billion a year in technology.” In the past, she explains, delivery of the technology had been somewhat fragmented. Different business lines had their own technology teams and were delivering their own solutions.
“Our corporate CIO decided that we had to re-establish our solution delivery process to put our clients front and center. We had to really understand what they were leveraging us for, and gain deeper insights into how that fit into their other investment-related systems and tasks so we could be more innovative. Essentially I’m responsible for all of the company’s client-facing technology now, regardless of function.”
CED has primary responsibility for the firm’s portals and works collaboratively with the business units, product lines and clients to develop an “integrated, comprehensive service experience that allows clients to address all their investment requirements and gain access to the services that BNY Mellon offers,” Mayer reports.
Technology outside the box
“We like to say that BNY Mellon is the investments company for the world,” Mayer says proudly. “We deliver a host of different functionality to major firms, financial services institutions, other types of institutions, sovereign entities and governments. We also deliver technology solutions on behalf of our clients that people like you and I might use. You might be using a portal with your investment firm’s name on it, but you’re actually using BNY Mellon technology.
“Understanding the different personas that we touch and understanding what their needs are leads to more consumer-focused IT,” she continues. “Even in the financial services industry, our competitors are not just other firms like us. Consumer technology companies set a different standard of interaction of which we have to be cognizant. People want to have the same kind of service from us as they get on Amazon, for example. We take these issues and innovation opportunities seriously.”
First-gen college student finds her niche
Mayer is from Brooklyn, NY, and a first-generation college grad. “I attended the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo and New Paltz,” she says.
“My original goal was to become a chemical engineer, but my first year at Buffalo, I had to take a Fortran course. It was my first exposure to computers and I loved it. I switched to New Paltz because Buffalo didn’t have an advanced computer science curriculum at the time.”
Mayer earned her BS magna cum laude in computer science from SUNY-New Paltz in 1984. After graduation, she returned to New York City and joined the intern program at Manufacturers Hanover Trust, developing personal trust applications.
In 1987, Mayer moved to Shearson Lehman (later Shearson Lehman Hutton), where she was responsible for mutual fund applications. “I had lots of opportunities and was working on the latest technology available,” Mayer remembers.
In 1990, Mayer joined what was at the time a small clearing brokerage firm called Pershing. She was a project leader responsible for clearance systems within the technology group. “For the first eight or nine years, I worked in technology and then I had the opportunity to move to the business side.
“Pershing was growing like mad and it wanted to re-engineer itself. I ran the project management office, the corporate management re-engineering office, business analysis, and also some operational areas.” Mayer held a variety of increasingly senior positions in application development, information management, business operations, process re-engineering, and technology product management.
In 2006 she was named Pershing’s first chief quality officer. “This entailed creating transparency between our internal service providers, both business and technology, and our clients about how well we were doing for them,” she explains. “Before there was big data, we were able to flip information around for our clients and show them, for every month, all their transactions and the service levels achieved. It built a collaborative relationship and I became very client facing.”
Bank of New York (BNY) acquired Pershing in 2003; in 2007, BNY merged with Mellon Financial. When Mayer came to BNY Mellon in her current role in May 2013, she had spent the previous two years as managing director and co-CIO for Pershing LLC.
Mayer is a member of the BNY Mellon operating committee and its IT executive committee. She represents Pershing and BNY Mellon on the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s technology management committee.
Helping propel women
Being a woman in technology has never been an issue for Mayer. “I was brought up to be independent and have a career,” she explains. “Getting married and having a family was fine but I had to become ‘myself’ first. I’m happy I found this career that I love, but if it hadn’t been this, it would have been something else.
“As much as I’m a technologist, I also love working with people and cultivating talent,” she says. “When I look at people who worked for me and have become successful, that’s very gratifying, but I believe we have a way to go. Over half of the world’s population is women. Eighty percent of financial decisions involve women but only twenty-three percent of the technology population is women. Something’s wrong with that equation.”
Last year, she helped create a “Women in Technology” program which focuses on cultivating careers for women at BNY Mellon, helping them manage their careers, generating exposure for what they do, and attracting more of them. More about career opportunities at BNY Mellon can be found at bnymellon.com/careers.
“We’re aligning with the Anita Borg Institute,” Mayer notes. “They’re out of Silicon Valley, but they’re looking for a hub in New York and BNY Mellon is one of six firms that will be partnering with them. They’re a recruitment powerhouse, a channel to attract young talent to the organization. I went to their Grace Hopper Conference last year and was amazed to see the talent participating and looking for opportunities. What a wonderful resource!”
Mayer is optimistic about the future. “There is a lot of change going on here,” she notes. “BNY Mellon is a 230-year-old financial firm but it’s almost entrepreneurial. I’m really excited about it. I want to be sitting here in five or ten years saying, ‘Wow! I was part of that!’”
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