Now the chief executive officer of Howard Bank, she started her career in what she calls a “traditional fashion” as an American Studies major at Seton Hill University, a small school in western Pennsylvania. She had only taken a few business-related courses before she dove into management training programs, specifically focusing on banking and insurance companies. After interviewing at three banks in the area, she decided that she wanted to work with businesses, something that, at the time, women weren’t encouraged to do and, sometimes, were not even permitted to pursue.
The bank that she chose, and worked at for almost 30 years, First National Bank of Maryland, reassured her that she would be able to exit the career path of retail branches at some point and instead move to commercial banking.
During her time at First National Bank, which later became Allfirst, she worked to help start a treasury management division and became an international banker. After 20 years of traveling, she decided she was ready to do something different. She wanted to work with the community she lived in and make an impact there. Once First National Bank went through a merger, she decided to start her own bank with two colleagues — no easy endeavor. Starting from scratch was incredibly difficult and required some luck, she said.
“When I left, [the next step] was not definitive by any stretch of the imagination, I was going to use the opportunity and the financial cushion to just explore a lot of different things. I ended up mostly exploring entrepreneurial things, some in banking, some out of banking,” she said.
She created an exploratory group to look at creating a new bank in Maryland. President and CEO of the Maryland Bankers Association, Kathleen Murphy, came to meet with Ms. Scully. “What so impressed me was that her research was so vast in terms of the people that she talked to, in terms of what would be the financial services need. It was the very first indicator of how thoughtful she really is,” Ms. Murphy said.
Immediately, Ms. Scully was getting traction. “Literally everybody that we talked to both in Howard County [and] in Baltimore, former advisers and consultants that I had worked with at a larger bank and people in New York City, would say, ‘go for it,’” she said. One investment banker she spoke with, whom she assumed would discourage her, ended up becoming an investor.
“That exploration led to an affirmation that this could be very successful. And we started the bank in 2004 after a 1-year gestation period,” she said. “[We] started from nothing. It’s not all about making the right decision. There’s always luck and good fortune involved in these things. But [we’re] able 15 years later to say, well, we’re a two and a half billion dollar bank,” said Ms. Scully. “We’re the largest locally headquartered bank in greater Baltimore, we’re the third largest locally headquartered bank in the state of Maryland.”
When Charles Schwabe, now the executive vice president and the chief strategic risk officer of Howard Bank, first met Ms. Scully 25 years ago, she was conducting a leadership retreat. He was blown away by her communication and what an effective listener she was. When Ms. Scully began Howard Bank in 2004, Mr. Schwabe was part of the founding group.
“It was Mary Ann’s vision. She was the one who saw that there was an opportunity for a certain type of small community bank. Clearly she was a visionary. She was the driving force by far in putting that together,” he said.
In 2018, Ms. Scully led Howard Bank’s acquisition of 1st Mariner Bank, which created Baltimore City’s largest locally headquartered banking company.
“I love the diversity in every sense of the word in Baltimore. The other thing that I find very compelling about Baltimore is it’s very connected internationally. And yet, Baltimore, unlike New York, and Washington is just a very genuine place. It’s a very down to earth place,” said Ms. Scully.
Jay Smith, who is on the board of directors at Howard Bank had heard of Ms. Scully, as her reputation preceded her, but their close relationship truly began a decade ago when he joined the board. Mr. Smith describes Ms. Scully as extremely disciplined. “She is one of the most hard working people I’ve ever met. Mary Ann is someone who is always involved and always on-the-go and always willing to support other people,” said Mr. Smith.
Her hardworking spirit comes from her intense curiosity viewing “literally every single day as a learning opportunity,” she said. “I often tell people that I think so much of my career was driven by me raising my hand occasionally and saying, ‘OK, I’m ready to take on a different challenge.‘”
Mary Ann Scully
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Current residence: Howard County
Education: Seton Hill University, Loyola University
Career highlights: Howard Bank CEO and board chair; Allfirst, executive vice president for regional banking; executive vice president for community banking
Civic and charitable activities: Trustee: Enoch Pratt Library, Loyola University of Maryland, Mount St. Joseph College high school, Community Foundation of Howard County Real Estate board, the Inner Arbor Trust and No More Stolen Childhood; Greater Baltimore Committee vice chair.