Gyssela Moreno is a risk management VP at Wells Fargo
"My application will scan accounts to determine whether we can continue the banking relationship or if the account needs additional scrutiny," she says
Unlike most other businesses, banks are highly regulated. Gyssela Moreno and her team focus on banking customers and how they fit within regulatory guidelines.
Moreno is a VP and technology manager for corporate technology and data and enterprise risk-management technology at Wells Fargo & Company (San Francisco, CA). She's stationed in Winston Salem, NC where she works in a group of about thirty people. Through two technical leads, she manages a team of twenty people including both team members and contractors who report to her.
"I have a lot of passion for what I do, and people who work for me tell me I'm very direct," Moreno says. "I have the ability to see a problem, really examine it, break it down and resolve it."
Moreno says she loves the applications she supports because anyone can understand what they do. "Their purpose is to scan business transactions and accounts," she explains.
"When prospective customers want to do business with Wells Fargo, my application will scan accounts to determine whether we can continue the banking relationship or if the account activity or customer are subject to additional scrutiny from one of the regulatory agencies that govern our industry. Is it someone trying to transfer money from one bank to another going through us?"
Flagging the problem
"If we find an account like that, we flag it and say, 'We can't transfer this money. It needs to be held and reported to the government.' When you hear that the U.S. has put sanctions on a foreign country, that's my application."
Moreno's team relies closely on watch lists created by the U.S. government, but that's not the only source of names. "The bank may do some analysis of its own and create lists of people with whom, for one reason or another, we can't work.
"I find it fascinating that we can do such important oversight for the U.S. using this technology!" Moreno says.
"I get a lot of energy from this position," she adds. In fact, she usually works about eleven hours a day.
"I'm learning a lot, and once I get hold of what my scope is and a better understanding of my projects, things will balance out," she adds.
One of the things Moreno wants to do is complete the MBA she began several years ago. "I'll eventually have an MBA," she promises. "That is my dream."
Born in Puerto Rico
Moreno was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She got her 1991 BS in business admin and CIS from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. In elementary school she skipped a grade; she started college at sixteen and came to the U.S. when she graduated at the age of twenty.
"I've discovered through my training that you always have to learn more; you can't just sit in a place without learning," she says.
It was senior year of high school before Moreno became really passionate about business. "In 1987 business technology was just starting to be common and in Puerto Rico we weren't quite as advanced as some other places in the world. But I joined Junior Achievement and realized how much I enjoy all the concepts of running a business: marketing, creating a product, writing a sales plan, all of it! Even though I had the GPA to go into engineering or math, my passion wasn't there. It was on the business side."
But her next step had to be something challenging. "When I read the description in the college catalog for computerized business systems, I said, 'Well, this is the future! This is where everything is going. Technology is going to enable all these different functions and move things ahead!' That's when I decided to go into business and work in technology."
The University of Puerto Rico is a well known college for engineers, and a lot of companies and organizations from the U.S. were recruiting there. Companies like AT&T, IBM and Xerox were looking not only for engineers but also for business and CIS people.
Moreno spent some time working as an intern at both IBM and Digital Equipment, but in 1991 she joined Xerox (Rochester, NY) as a developer. "Xerox had opportunities that merged the business side with the technology side," she explains.
New York and North Carolina
"The move from Puerto Rico to upstate New York was a pretty big change," Moreno notes with a laugh. "My husband and I moved there, but the job market for him in that area wasn't great. It was fine for me because, in the 1990s, technology was really taking off. So I could work anywhere in the United States, and we decided to try it farther south."
In 1994 Moreno joined Wachovia Corp (Charlotte, NC) as a developer. She worked her way up through senior developer, technical lead, project lead and project manager. "Those steps moved me through all the phases of technology," she says. "After eight or nine years I moved onto a project management track and I was there for another six years."
Merging into Wells Fargo
In 2008 Wells Fargo and Wachovia merged, and in July 2011 Moreno moved into her current position of technology manager. Her combination of business perspective, technology experience and leadership ability has made her a role model and mentor to employees both inside and outside the company.
Moreno recently attended a Latino Leaders program designed to help participants bridge the gap to mainstream American business cultures without losing their own culture and values. "It was amazing," Moreno says. "There were more than thirty Latinos and Hispanics from throughout the corporation. It was probably the most eye-opening three hours I've ever spent! We learned how to understand who you are, know your strengths, and not feel you have to leave part of yourself at home when you come to work."
Focus on the job
For the next two years Moreno expects to be focused on the job at hand. "I really want to bring my team to the next level of efficiency and productivity, to make sure everyone understands how impactful this application is and how well it performs," she says.
"After that I'm going to keep looking to see what other management opportunities there are with Wells Fargo. The company has positioned itself to grow, and there should be more opportunities here for managers, and for anyone else who wants to do something different."
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