Female leaders share advice at Wall Street Conference
Mon 24 October 2011
, Melissa J. Anderson, www.theglashammer.com
Last week, Deutsche Bank hosted its 17th annual Women on Wall Street conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The event drew over 2,000 people, mainly women in the financial services industry. They shared some of their advice with Melissa Anderson.
By Melissa J. Anderson:
Jeffrey Mayer, Managing Director and Head of the Corporate and Investment Bank in North America at Deutsche Bank, opened the evening by pointing out that although the industry is seeing a generational shift when it comes to gender diversity – roughly 20% of attendees were at the Managing Director level or above, while 80% of were either “fresh out of college” or at the director level – “the percentage of women in senior front office roles falls short.”
He continued, “We need to attract, develop, and retain more women who can punch through to the senior ranks.”
The theme of the evening was “Breaking Through to the C-Suite.” Keynote speaker Sharon Allen, Former Chairman of the Board of Deloitte LLP said she believes that the ability to get to the top really comes from within.
“I know what a difference the organization can make because Deloitte was really a trailblazer with our [women's] initiative.” But, she continued, “No matter what your organization may do to help promote your career, at the end of the day, it won’t matter unless you perform and watch out for your own career.”
She explained that to make it to the top, women must plan their own career, seize the opportunities that come along, and be willing to promote their own accomplishments.
Self Promotion, Asking for Help, and Seeking Feedback
Allen, the highest ranking woman in Deloitte LLP’s history, began her keynote by describing the importance of self promotion. She recalled how, earlier in her career, she had been passed over for a promotion. When she went to her manager’s office, fuming, to find out why, she counted off the things she’d done to deserve it. The manager had no idea she’d done any of them.
After that, she said, “I had to be sure everybody knew about all the good things I was doing in the organization. And you can do that without being a braggart.”
Following her keynote, Allen continued in a one-on-one conversation with Carolyn Buck-Luce, Principal and Global Life Sciences Leader at Ernst & Young.
Buck Luce explained how many women who work in traditionally male dominated fields find it difficult to ask for help. She said, “When you work so hard to show you can do it, you don’t necessarily know how to ask.”
Allen said that she had stumbled here as well – at one point in her career, she began to receive less than stellar feedback from some of her team. “I was doing so many things that I wasn’t doing all of them well,” she said. “I wasn’t leveraging enough – I wasn’t looking to others.”
Allen explained that by asking for help, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re also helping others gain experience.
She said that this feedback experience had been valuable to her career. “Seek feedback and receive it openly,” she said. “Identify some good, trusted [people] whom you know and won’t just tell you what you want to hear.”
She added, “I think people who have figured that out will be more successful than those who haven’t.”
Finally, she said, women should think about their legacy throughout their entire career – and that goes beyond a job title. “It’s not so much what you’re known as,” she said. “But it’s really more important about what you’re known for.”
What Makes a Good Leader?
Next, Buck Luce invited to the stage Ilene H. Lang, CEO, Catalyst; Donna Milrod, Deputy CEO, Deutsche Bank Americas; Ann Marie Petach, CFO, BlackRock; and Katherine Garrett-Cox, CEO, Alliance Trust.
She said that today’s institutions are not meeting the needs of society. What are the qualities that today’s companies need to see in their leaders in order to do so?
Garrett-Cox began, explaining that leaders need to be able to think carefully about how their own behavior. “Take all of the good things of people you’ve worked for and with, and discard all of the bad things.”
She added, “A job title gives you no rights but gives you enormous responsibilities.”
Lang continued Allen’s earlier discussion of legacy, explaining that leadership means understanding you can’t do everything yourself.
“I believe your network’s your reputation,” she said. “If you want to do something big, get a lot of people who want to do it too.”
Petach pointed out the importance of clarity. “One of the things that is critically important is a clear vision.” She explained that leadership is weakened when everybody has a different idea of what is to be accomplished. “At BlackRock [the vision] is so clear – that we act in the fiduciary interests of our clients.” And, she continued, that makes it easier to get the job done. “We can compromise on everything… except our vision.”
Finally, Milrod pointed out the importance of boldness. “Part of good leadership is being brave,” she said. And that means understanding that you have followers. “Don’t leave people behind in that leadership role you are taking.”
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