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Catherine Bessant
Global Technology and Operations Executive
Bank of America Corp.
Last year: 14

Bank megamergers are often justified by projected efficiencies and economies of scale, but realizing those paybacks requires wrestling with incompatible systems that can take years to rationalize and consolidate. The mission was particularly long and costly for $2.2 trillion-in-assets Bank of America Corp. — which had been a serial acquirer for decades and brought on distressed Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. during the financial crisis — but it is accomplished. "Between mid-2011 and mid-2012 we completed a journey we set out on 15 years ago," says Catherine Bessant, a longtime corporate banker who was named global technology and operations executive in January 2010. "Every legacy acquisition has been converted to a single deposit platform, a single core banking platform, a single online platform." The unified infrastructure promotes product and marketing consistency, and affords "opportunities for risk reduction, a much better customer experience and greater utilization of our products and services," adds the 51-year-old, whose organization consists of 109,000 employees and contractors worldwide. "Our big effort in 2011 was modernizing platforms and freakishly focusing on simplification" — which is something of a mantra for the 30-year BofA veteran. Since 2010 the Charlotte, North Carolina–­based bank has reduced its servers by 23 percent and applications by 19 percent, and has shut down 20 data centers.

Video: Catherine Bessant
Global Technology & Operations Executive, Bank of America Corp.