Not many tellers rise to supervise regional bank presidents. But Paula Mandell, senior vice president and area executive at M&T Bank, did just that — a meteoric career for anyone, let alone for a woman during an era when the industry was dominated by men.
A newlywed at 19, Mandell thought banking sounded “professional” and still remembers her teller’s weekly salary of $70 in the early 1970s at Bankers Trust. Following several promotions, Mandell was handpicked for the bank’s internal training program in Manhattan, setting her on track to go into commercial banking. After having two sons and moving to the suburbs, Mandell joined M&T in 1992, continuing to climb the ranks. As Tarrytown-based Westchester regional president, Mandell played a vital role in building the bank’s business. With her elevation to area executive in 2015, she became responsible for M&T’s business in Connecticut, Rockland, and New Jersey, in addition to Westchester. Her area includes more than 1,100 M&T Bank employees and 110 branches, holding almost $15 billion in total deposits.
For Mandell, banking is not just crunching numbers. “It’s really more about relationships,” she says. “Understanding our customers’ needs, helping them grow their businesses and helping them through hard times.”