Montresa McMillan: Transforming the Banking Landscape through Visionary Leadership

Sponsored by TD

In banking, where strategic planning, cultural transformation, and innovation are the cornerstones of success, Montresa McMillan is the perfect fit for leadership. A seasoned bank executive at TD known for her ability to orchestrate holistic and transformative change, she puts her considerable experience and perspective to work to help drive the institution’s evolution. As Senior Vice President (SVP), Strategy, Change & Operational Excellence at TD, she leads a portfolio that includes Strategy, Planning and Support, Governance & Control teams, and several bank-wide Centers of Expertise (CoEs), including Change Management, Process Engineering, Digitization and Automation, Architecture, and Accessibility. She is deeply committed to advancing the bank’s enterprise capabilities and expediting value realization from strategic initiatives. Under her guidance, these CoEs have become incubators of innovation, helping to drive efficiency and operational excellence across the organization.

However, Montresa’ s influence extends far beyond the scope of her role.

Leading by Example while Breaking Barriers

Montresa’s story has exemplified the value of diverse voices at the leadership table. Montresa’s career journey to her current position is not just a personal achievement; it’s a source of inspiration for those who can now see themselves represented at the table, and the driving force of her own commitment to make change real. Her diverse and inclusive senior leadership table brings this ethos to life.

Leading by example, Montresa actively promotes and encourages women to take on leadership roles. She is committed to mentorship, providing guidance, and serving as a role model for other women. By working passionately to help break down stereotypes and shatter preconceived notions about the roles and capabilities of women in leadership at the bank, she continues to empower the next generation of women leaders.

Montresa is also a strong advocate for supporting women in overcoming barriers that might impede their career progression. In her own words, “Women continue to face challenges and biases in leadership, and addressing these issues is crucial for future success. What some may perceive as weaknesses in women leaders are often strengths.” She champions open, transparent, and frequent conversations to address the unique challenges women face in leadership positions. Through these efforts, Montresa fosters an environment at the bank where women are empowered, and feel supported and inspired to excel in leadership roles.

The Importance of Working for an Organization that Aligns with your Values

Montresa is proud to call TD home, because the values of the organization align so well with hers. TD is committed to helping promote the growth of women in leadership positions and helping promote representation from diverse backgrounds. The organization’s approach encompasses multiple strategies, involving substantial investments in the attraction of diverse talent, as well as the retention of employees, including programs designed to facilitate career development and progression.

For example, the Women at TD employee resource group, the bank’s largest, is pursuing a strategy to provide training and resources that promote an understanding of how biases can directly impact employees in their personal and work lives, both directly and indirectly. Leaders across the Bank have been engaging in facilitator-led virtual workshops called “50 Ways to Fight Bias” which involve working through real life scenarios to identify and challenge bias head on. This work helps leaders and colleagues understand the case for change, and why addressing bias is both their responsibility and a critical part of the TD culture. The result has helped further awareness of bias and microaggressions that can arise and challenge equity and inclusion. TD continues the work to support inclusive leadership and challenge implicit bias through the Talent Review cycle, hiring process, and everyday actions.

The Business Value of Women in Leadership

Montresa is a leader who is focused on outcomes–including outcomes that result from promoting and supporting women in leadership roles in the bank and creating a more balanced and inclusive culture, internally and externally.  She firmly believes that a diversity of perspectives helps to naturally foster creativity and innovation.

“Traditional stereotypes about women can be reframed as strengths,” says Montresa. “For example, a woman’s caring nature can translate into empathy for colleagues, the ability to put themselves in others’ shoes, and the capacity to foster followership and loyalty, and create inclusive environments.”

“Quietness and being emotional are two other perceived weaknesses in women leaders. But being quiet can be seen as a sign of thoughtfulness, a methodical approach, and a preference for speaking when there’s something valuable to say,” Montresa adds. “And emotions can be channeled into passion and motivation to drive corporate agendas with speed, or as a willingness to stand up for what you believe in.”

Diversity in leadership helps organizations tap into a wide range of perspectives to better address their customers’ unique requirements. A diverse leadership team also helps serve as both an inspiration and a source of comfort for everyone, signaling that the organization is an inclusive environment where women can thrive, thereby strengthening the talent pipeline.

Creating a diverse and inclusive culture is a differentiator for an organization, and having a diverse leadership team, inclusive of women from all backgrounds, brings unique viewpoints, experiences, and problem-solving approaches to the table. This translates into a broader understanding of complex issues and the emergence of distinctive solutions.

For Montresa, diversity and inclusion can be likened to an orchestra: diversity is like the variety of the different instruments that musicians play, and inclusion is how the musicians join together to create a sonic landscape– a magical experience that cannot be achieved solely by one musician alone. She says, “Leaders have a role to play in helping to have diversity in the workplace, but we all have a responsibility to be open to new ways of thinking and ideas to help create and foster an inclusive culture where we can all feel that we belong.”

Montresa remains conscious that the work is far from done. She remains focused on the future. “My hope for the future,” she says, “is that we create a diverse inclusive environment where all people have fair opportunities to thrive, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation and thereby strengthening our working cultures and societies.”