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February 22, 2010

A Confident Voice for Women in Finance

Catherine New
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“I am the luckiest person I know,” Sallie Krawcheck ’92 said at an event in New York on February 4, 2010. Krawcheck, who is the president of Global Wealth & Investment Management at Bank of America, spoke at a presentation hosted by Columbia Business School and the Women’s Executive Circle of New York on findings from the 2009 New York Census. Professor Ann Bartel presented the data, which revealed that fewer than 11 percent of executive officers in New York are women (see related post).

“Don’t wait for a company to put an initiative in place,” Krawcheck told the women in the audience about moving forward in their organizations. “Take ownership of your career. Have conversations about money. Be self-aware and very honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. When you ask for feedback, make sure you get it and then don’t push it away, even if it’s hard to take.”

Her advice for women early on in their careers is to take speech lessons, so that they exude confidence in their speaking. Another key to success, she said, is to know what to worry — and not to worry — about.

“My mantra is ‘Water off a duck’s back,’” she said. “Don’t focus on what you can’t control but on what you can, like your own behavior.”

Responding to a question from the audience about leadership in tough times, Krawcheck said it was important for leaders to skew toward optimism.

“People want to work with someone who is open; it’s about leading and interacting with the people who work for you,” she said. “Make them feel included and respected. It’s okay as a leader to show that you don’t always know all the answers.”

Photo courtesy of Columbia Business School