One of the first lessons in leadership Anne (Russell) Musynske, ’10, learned was as a young counselor-in-training at the Rochester, N.Y., YMCA: Words matter. Be a source of inspiration, even when things are hard, because people look up to you.
Following that advice—and the example set by her parents of working hard with integrity and being proud of the work that you do—helped Musynske excel professionally and earn promotions with increasing leadership and responsibility at M&T Bank. Today, as executive vice president of the bank’s Western New York branch network, Musynske was recently named one of Buffalo Business First’s Power 200 Women.
“I was completely floored and humbled to be a part of it,” she says of the honor, noting that one trait the women seemed to have in common was a “do the right thing mentality. A lot of them have balanced children and careers, and navigated big jobs and the unique challenges of being women in industries that have historically been dominated by men. There’s a sort of camaraderie amongst a group like that, and it was just awesome to be a part of it.”
As a business administration major at Niagara University, Musynske helped to restart the Collegiate Entrepreneurial Organization (CEO) on campus. Her work with the club included hosting the inaugural Niagara University Turkey Trot 5K fun run/one-mile walk.
“We had no formal knowledge of how to run a race,” she admits, but says that experience taught her another important leadership lesson: that it was okay to pursue a good idea, even if it is not perfect, and to learn from your mistakes to improve.
Musynske became interested in a career in banking during a summer job as a teller at M&T Bank. She saw that the organization had a strong culture of mentoring talent and supporting employees’ career pathways. When she learned about the bank’s Management Development Program from Niagara’s Career Services office, she applied for it.
“Career Services was awesome throughout my time at NU,” she says. “They helped to connect us with the path from college to career and showed us what success looks like after school.”
Musynske was one of about 50 new college graduates—including her future husband—selected for the year-long immersive program. She was assigned to the bank’s retail department, where she learned more about consumer banking and working collaboratively with customers at M&T Bank branches while honing her leadership skills and getting her required licenses.
“It set me on the path I’m still on today,” she says.
She spent the first 10 years of her career working her way through management roles within the bank’s branch network in Buffalo, Baltimore, Md., and New Jersey, where, as regional manager, she supported the conversion of Hudson City Savings Bank to M&T Bank, overseeing 18 branches in the New Jersey area. She also earned her MBA from Loyola University during this time.
In January 2020, she was offered an opportunity to learn call center operations. While it was “a career leap of faith,” Musynske’s leadership and people skills, and the support she received, helped her succeed in the new role. And it gave her and her husband, now the parents of two young boys, the opportunity to return to Western New York.
In 2022, after having her third son, she was promoted to her current role, leading WNY’s retail branch network, which includes seven regional managers across 86 branches.
“I was given a lot of opportunities to stretch into bigger assignments, to be put on projects that offered me exposure, and I’ve found that if I raised my hand and put in the work, they’d support me along the way,” she says, adding that she has had a lot of great mentors throughout her time at M&T. “The moments in my career that scared me the most are the ones when I said yes and put myself out on a limb, and ultimately, those were the moments that paid off the most. Great challenges bring the greatest personal and professional growth.”
Back in Western New York, Musynske personifies M&T’s purpose as a company, which is “to make a difference in people’s lives.” She has become involved both in her community—including a staple of her childhood, as a member of Buffalo Niagara YMCA’s board of directors—and with M&T’s Women’s Leadership Network group, paying forward the support she has appreciated throughout her career. She especially likes to encourage new mothers, like herself, who have the extra challenge of balancing a career while raising small children.
“It’s ok to forge a different path,” she says. “There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all way to build a career. Be true to yourself and to the things that you want to have, and be willing to carve it out on your own. I find myself making my own way, but feel really fortunate and supported in being able to do that, and I want others to know that they can do it, too.”