Loyola Business Blog

Alumni Spotlight: Mary Ann Scully, MBA '79

Mary Ann Scully, MBA ’79, founded Howard Bank in 2004 after 30 years with First National Bank of Maryland. She spoke to us about how her Loyola MBA helped her establish a network in Baltimore, how her career has taken shape, and how her Catholic background guides her education and values.

Why did you choose to get an MBA?
I graduated from college with a liberal arts degree, and while I value that varied education to this day, I quickly learned when I went into the business world that it would be very helpful for me to have a more solid business foundation. I entered a training program at the First National Bank of Maryland, where I was one of the first female management trainees and the only one who wanted to be a commercial relationship officer rather than a branch manager. To achieve that position, it was strongly suggested I pursue a master’s degree. As someone who’s always interested in theoretical applications in addition to practical applications, I was happy to gain that academic foundation to supplement the tactical, operational side of banking I was learning in the training program. 

Why did you decide to attend Sellinger?
I always attended parochial schools growing up, so the Jesuit background was of great interest to me because I knew that the business education would be combined with an ethical foundation. I also liked that it was a smaller size, especially compared to other local business schools. Also, Loyola’s MBA programs have a great reputation, especially the part-time MBA program.

What about your Loyola experience helped you get where you are today?
The education itself was immensely valuable, but I also created a network full of people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Loyola has a fantastic business community, a great cadre of undergraduate and graduate business alumni in the area. As somebody who did not grow up in Baltimore, but worked for Baltimore banks throughout my life, it was very helpful to have that local connection. Being able to say that I was a Loyola graduate gave me access to a network I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It was useful to be a part of that strong Baltimore group. I give back now by helping to build that community at events like the Business Leader of the Year dinner and have even encouraged colleagues of mine to pursue their master’s degrees at Loyola. It really does end up becoming a web as much as it is a network of connections.

What values guide your business today?
Howard Bank is a smaller bank on the market despite our growth in the local area, and our differentiation point is our expertise, professionalism and sincere ability to give advice. My staff and I adhere to an ethical obligation that if you say to someone, “I am prepared to give you advice on this,” that you really are prepared to give that person advice and aren’t just saying that. I think that combining professionalism with an ethical background is very, very important. You have to be professional, but you have to have integrity in how you deliver that professionalism.

We’re also in a competitive environment, so it’s necessary for us to develop and leverage relationships we have in the community. The Loyola connection has helped us be successful in developing, maintaining, and growing our business in that way. The need to have a network of relationships continues to be very important. 

One of the things we require at Howard Bank is that all our customer-facing staff above a certain level assume at least one and ideally two board leadership positions. This means they don’t just do volunteer work but need to be on a board of a nonprofit. It’s helped us have a real impact in the community, and I think some of that comes from the Catholic background that attracted me to Loyola.

What are some of the roles you’ve held in your career?
I spent the first 20 or so years of my career travelling nationally and then globally. Then, midway through my career, I decided I wanted to have more of a local focus. I was getting remarried and I was starting a family later in life, so I went to the executive management and said, “I know more people in Santiago and Amsterdam right now than I do Baltimore, and that’s not the way I want to spend the rest of my life.”

I was offered an opportunity to go into strategic planning and mergers-and-acquisition work. I worked locally in various roles until I had the opportunity to gain entrepreneurial experience and started Howard Bank. I performed a variety of roles at Howard Bank for several years, ranging from primary business developer to in-house strategist to talent recruitment. As the bank’s grown, organically and through acquisition, I’m now in a more traditional executive role where I’m certainly doing business development, but I’m more responsible for the vision and the strategy and the culture and the talent recruitment. 

What boards are you on or groups are you a part of?
I’m notorious for having served on many boards over my career. I generally try to be on two or three boards at the same time. They’ve all been wonderful experiences, but a couple have been of note. I was the first woman chairman of the Maryland Banker’s Association, and as someone who’s spent my life in banking that was an especially rewarding opportunity. I was also the chair of the Community Foundation of Howard County, helping to facilitate philanthropy in the county. Right now, I am the president and chair of Catholic Charities, which has been impactful and rewarding work offering me insight into problems in Baltimore City.