Witad Awards 2023: Trailblazer (lifetime achievement) award—Jo-Anne Moran, BNY Mellon

BNY Mellon’s Jo-Anne Moran wins the highest profile category of this year’s Women in Technology and Data Awards, joining an illustrious group of outstanding women as recipients of the trailblazer of the year award. This category is traditionally awarded to a woman who has contributed significantly to the industry, the firms she has worked for and her colleagues over an extended period. Moran certainly fits the bill: She has spent more than five decades working in the wider financial services industry and is currently global head of technology change integration for global operations and technology at BNY Mellon.

Like many men and woman working in the industry, Moran’s career journey can best be described as serendipitous. “The one thing I am most proud of is the actual roadmap of my career,” Moran says. “I started out as a bank teller and then a branch manager before starting my technology career. I ran cash vaults, global markets, infrastructure and then risk. Now, I’m in more of a governance role.”


Moran is candid about her lack of intimate industry knowledge when embarking on her capital markets career, although she was undaunted, instead seeking advice and help if and when she needed it. “When I went into global markets, I had to look up the term ‘derivative’ in the dictionary,” she says. “For me, it’s more about being willing to learn and asking for help. I remember speaking with a woman before taking on a new role in a domain that I didn’t really understand. I had to ask her how an FX transaction works. I was actually going to run the middle office and I had no idea how to settle a trade. So, part of what I am proud of is showing that roadmap and being okay with having learned lessons and being able to share those lessons with other people starting their careers.”

Moran played a prominent role in the firm’s Covid-19 response in the early days of the pandemic in the US. She explains that one of the lessons she learned during her career was how to get things done … and quickly. It was this blend of decisiveness and pragmatism that proved invaluable during a time of unprecedented uncertainly. “With Covid, there was a sense of urgency, but then it became more about creating a team of experts that was going to put together a plan to run the bank from home, get everybody safe and out of the office,” she explains. “It really became about connecting the dots: We needed infrastructure, inventory, what technology capabilities they had at home, and what new capabilities we needed to get to them. We partnered with our resiliency, infrastructure and finance teams to deliver a working model within 24 hours. We were able to safely transition 95% of the workforce to work-from-home status in under 14 days. It became about protecting our people.”

Paying it forward

When asked about whether she has had the opportunity to “pay it forward” and act as a mentor or role model for other women within BNY Mellon, Moran pauses momentarily and then recounts a situation where she used a mix of her influence within the business and her pragmatism to retain the services of two valuable women. “About eight years ago, there were two very senior women looking for their next role within the business,” she says. “One had gone into program management and wanted to come back into technology, but nobody would bring her in because she was too senior, and her technology skills weren’t adequate.”

Moran explains that the other woman was in a similar place but was looking for a slightly different role. She decided to take both of them onto her team. “After I got to know one of the women, I consulted with a few of my peers who agreed to teach her the technology skills needed to get her back into a more technical roll,” she says. “She’s now the CDO of a large bank. I believe that if women can figure out how to pay it forward, that’s exactly what we should be doing—finding opportunities for others and helping them, whether it’s as a role model or just providing feedback.”

Past winners on this category include Mona Eldam, Morgan Stanley (2022); Linda Coffman, SmartStream Technologies (2021); Barb O’Malley, Northern Trust (2020), Cathy Bessant, Bank of America (2019); and Debra Walton, Refinitiv (2018).

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