2020 Executive Excellence Awards: Mary Knell, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Northwest Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo

The 40-year industry veteran, a strong advocate for diverse leadership, manages a team of more than 400 commercial bankers

This article appears in print in the January/February 2020 issue. See more about the winners of the 2020 Executive Excellence Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

In her first year as CEO of Pacific Northwest Commercial Banking for Wells Fargo & Co., Mary Knell led an effort to combine the company’s middle market and business banking groups into one organization.

In that role — which she started in January 2019 — she is now responsible for all of the commercial banking operations in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Western Canada. She manages a team of more than 400 bankers who serve business customers with revenue between $5 million and $2 billion

At the same time, Knell, a 40-year industry veteran who joined the bank in 2010, has continued her fervent advocacy for supporting women in leadership. Colleagues say she consistently mentors and finds opportunities for women on her team to succeed.

“Mary is a tremendous supporter of diverse talent and ensuring that we have development plans for future leaders,” says Laura MacNeil, an executive vice president in the company’s commercial banking division. “She has been methodical in ensuring that her team members have meaningful roles as we transform our organization to better serve our customers.”

Knell is also lauded for her advocacy for the Asian community. In 2018, Knell served as the executive adviser for Wells Fargo enterprise’s Asian Connection Team Member Network — a group with more than two dozen chapters across the United States and India that promotes awareness of Asian culture and values. In addition, the lifelong Seattle resident is an active community leader, serving on several economic development and nonprofit boards.

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