Angela Conti, TD Bank
Angela Conti understands that having ambition is important, but not enough to get ahead in life and business.
While most people have lofty career ambitions, few have plans on how to fulfill them. Still, others have plans — but once a wrench gets thrown in their way, even fewer have a back-up plan to lean on in order to get back up. Angela Conti has both and her success demonstrates why it’s important.
“Doing a great job in your current role is a must, but it's not enough to get you to the next level,” said Conti, head of consumer payments at TD Bank and one of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2020.
Read more: The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2020
Over the past 20 years, Conti has held product management roles and key leadership positions at major U.S. banking institutions including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, TD Bank and Washington Mutual. It’s the role at Wamu that forced Conti to defer to a back-up plan when the institution failed in the great recession, and was acquired by Chase.
French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who penned the famous novel Le Petit Prince, epitomized Conti’s mantra for planning when he coined the phrase 80 years earlier “a goal without a plan is just wish.” This inspirational quote couldn’t be more appropriate for someone who was just about to receive the biggest setback in her entire career.
Conti took the position at Wamu to expand her responsibilities and give her exposure to a new growth area — subprime credit cards. Confident in the venture and her potential success, Conti packed up her belongings and entire family, moving from Pennsylvania to California. She had left a great job at Chase to take the new credit card product development role at Wamu.
Success came quickly as Conti and her team began launching new products to market and offering new services to eager consumers. Her leadership role and responsibilities grew at Wamu just when the great recession hit in 2009, causing Wamu to be acquired by Chase. Conti said that it was a great lesson for her as a leader, and that she learned quite a bit about payments. The career experience was both exciting and stressful, and Conti is glad that she took the risk.
Today, at TD Bank, Conti leads the development and execution of customer-centric strategies for payment products including debit cards, open loop gift cards, digital wallets and person-to-person payments. Conti is also responsible for the management of key vendor relationships and partners with stakeholders across the TD organization to drive cross-functional product initiatives.
To drive this planning philosophy home to those seeking to emulate her success Conti laid out her formula in a succinct memo style: “Here’s three steps to help you get there:
1. Communicate your ambitions to your leadership. You can’t assume that leadership knows that you want to move up into management.
2. Seek clarity and align expectations. Don't be afraid to ask your leadership what it takes to get to the next level. Align on where you are and what you need to demonstrate to be considered for the next level — be specific.
3. Create a plan with milestones and feedback along the way. Own your career by creating an actionable plan."
One additional benefit of having a plan is that it allows a person to make the most of every interaction and be able to engage in areas outside of work. When Conti’s not driving new strategic product initiatives at work, she can be found mentoring other women as an active leader in TD’s PA/NJ Women in Leadership Council, or busy with her family. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, their five children and two dogs. In her spare time, Conti enjoys applying her artistic side with painting, sculpting and crafting.