The Troubled Condition: Jill Castilla
“You potentially could get banned from banking just by being part of this incredibly dysfunctional organization.”
What does it take to overcome extraordinary cultural dysfunction within an organization? How do you manage that process when the results spill into the wider community? In what ways are these issues magnified for a community institution with a 120-year history?
In 2009, nobody wanted Jill Castilla in Edmond, Oklahoma, much less inside the halls of its century-old community institution, Citizens Bank—nobody except her stepfather. The third-generation Citizens Bank-er had coaxed her to come in the midst of a Federal Reserve examination underway at the bank.
Though she’d arrived at the bank without a title, she got to work, living in her stepfather’s house. The bank examination was terrible. Heads rolled. Within 30 days of arriving, she found fraud, mismanagement, erroneous financial statements and, as she put it, “a bank in shambles.” She reported her findings to the bank’s board and to regulators. Soon, she was promoted to CFO. And people in Edmond, both inside and outside the institution, blamed her for stirring up trouble.
“I’m still learning all of the nicknames that staff and community members had for me during that time,” she once said. The woman who cut Castilla’s hair mentioned “the evil woman” over at the bank—unaware that woman was sitting in her chair. Yet, by 2014, she was named CEO and has since frequently appeared on numerous lists of top bankers to watch.
What happened? What did she know about the situation before she arrived? Why did she persist? And was she able to turn things around for the bank—both its finances and its culture? Ironically, she sensed that turning around perceptions within the bank was easier than the external recovery. And even today, she wonders whether she could have done anything differently to manage the transition—and the resulting cultural turmoil.
- The Oklahoman: “Citizens Bank of Edmond CEO Jill Castilla appointed to Federal Reserve Advisory Council”
- 405 Magazine: “Jill Castilla: Star Among Citizens”
- The Federal Reserve’s “written agreement” with Citizens Bank of Edmond
- Video, American Banker: Castilla and venture capitalist Mark Cuban partner up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The banker and the Shark: A playbook for small businesses”
This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:
- Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick and Judy Milanovits, creative assistance
- Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
- Hayden Molinarolo, original music, sound design and editing
- Mike Martin Media, editing
- Sophia Passantino, social media
- Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
- Mark P. Taylor, strategic support
- Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support
Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.
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Download the podcast transcript (PDF)