The summer before starting college, Elizabeth Scarpelli worked as a telemarketer at the Citibank call center. Scarpelli was a nontraditional student who worked to pay her way through school, and this position ended up being a stepping-stone that propelled her career over the next two decades in the financial services industry. This opportunity also taught her the importance of time management and organizational skills and also allowed her to connect theory with practice using real-world experience.
“I learned how important mentors were early on,” she recalls. “My first mentor at Citibank eventually offered me a permanent position, which allowed me to participate in the bank’s tuition reimbursement program and made me eligible for things like a 401(k), medical benefits, and added financial support to fund my education—not something college kids were typically worried about, but something incredibly important to me.”
Scarpelli completed both her undergraduate degree and MBA while working full time at Citibank and raising her young family. By the time Scarpelli left Citibank in 2007, she had held eleven different roles at the company, including several positions as a vice president and senior leader.
“I had strong female role models who led by example and men who were allies, but I did observe that there weren’t many diverse leaders in senior roles at the time,” Scarpelli says. “As I furthered my career, I was determined to help shape the composition of leaders, to ensure a more diverse representation across the workforce, and to pave the road for others who followed me.”
As director of operations at GE, Scarpelli strived to do just that, joining the Hispanic Leadership Forum and serving as cochair of the GE Women’s Network Cross Affinity Committee. “I worked with others who were just as committed as I was to bringing in new talent, developing their teams, and serving the community where we lived and worked,” Scarpelli emphasizes.
Scarpelli also helped lead the first-ever Cross-Affinity Group speed networking initiative, whose purpose was to drive employee engagement and retention. As Scarpelli explains, this gave emerging leaders a chance to shine and offered senior leadership an opportunity to identify rising stars in the company’s talent pipeline. In addition to that, she served as the Stamford city lead for the GE Foundation’s Developing Health Initiative, a three-year skills-based volunteer program that awarded a $250,000 grant over two years to the Optimus Health Center to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare. As part of the program, GE employees helped an award recipient accomplish its goals of expanding access to healthcare.
Scarpelli’s passion for driving diversity and inclusion is one of the reasons she joined BNY Mellon, where she now serves as global head of enterprise wide functions compliance, is a member of the D&I Advisory Council to the CEO, and serves as cochair of the Latinx Leadership Forum.
Before joining BNY Mellon, Scarpelli attended the national convention hosted by the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA). It was there that Scarpelli met BNY Mellon’s recruiting team and executive sponsors from the IMPACT business resource group. They invited her to attend a Signature Leadership Forum, the bank’s flagship diversity recruitment program, which brings senior leaders together to promote the exchange of thought leadership and industry best practices as well as interact with senior leadership and recruiters. It was at this event she met the executive who would one day become her manager.
“I believe BNY Mellon is an organization that values people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, and I was thrilled they took a chance on me as a nontraditional compliance candidate,” Scarpelli says.
Soon after joining the global investments company, Scarpelli’s continued desire to cultivate a diverse pipeline of future leaders drove her to become involved with the Signature Leadership Forum’s steering committee. In fact, just three months after coming on board the company, Scarpelli had the unique opportunity to serve as the emcee for the program, exemplifying how employee resource groups provide a platform for visibility and exposure that employees might not otherwise have.
Today, Scarpelli is a member of IMPACT’s global leadership team, serving as the lead for external partnerships and the company’s appointed liaison with ALPFA. One of the things she’s proudest of is expanding the firm’s programming and participation in the scholarship program at the ALPFA annual conventions, through which BNY Mellon awarded seventeen scholarships totaling $60,000 to deserving students over the course of two years. “We really made a difference in these students’ lives. I find that very fulfilling,” Scarpelli enthuses. “I’ve benefited from having mentors and sponsors throughout my career, and I do feel a responsibility to pay it forward and extend a hand to open the door to the next generation of leaders.”
Another career highlight for Scarpelli was organizing the ringing of the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, with the entire Latinx leadership team participating in-person the first year and virtually in 2020.
As a working mother, Scarpelli has at times been challenged to break stereotypes of working moms as she fights to secure a seat at the table and be a voice for others. But she finds this challenge motivating. “It’s about more than just doing my job well and growing; I hope I’m making a difference and helping others grow and develop their careers,” she says. “I’m extremely proud to be part of a team that influences and helps create a culture of inclusion and the feeling of belonging.” Looking ahead, Scarpelli hopes to continue playing a leading role in supporting a diversity and inclusion agenda, both within the bank and with strategic partners.
“I’ve always been passionate about my work, and BNY Mellon allows me the opportunity to get more involved with things that I’m passionate about on a personal level and motivate myself to do more,” she says. “I want to challenge people to think about their involvement and encourage them to get more engaged.”