Managing Director and Head of Markets in North America, Citigroup

Citigroup wants women interested in a career on its sales and trading desk to know they can come from a variety of backgrounds.

In a recruitment video for its women in trading program a few years ago, Suni Harford made the case that the group has "a job for every single person and every single skill set." The video also included interviews with dozens of women in management and associate roles who came to Citi with backgrounds ranging from engineering to art history. Harford herself was a physics and math major at Denison University, a liberal arts college in Ohio.

This program, meant to help remove cultural barriers so more women would consider a career in securities, has been a breakthrough. Women made up 40% of its incoming 2016 analyst class, up from just 20% a few years prior.

The program expanded last year to include mentors for new hires (and even for female summer interns). Harford requires her direct reports to meet with the senior women in their departments for one-on-one career discussion at least twice a year.

Harford has been a champion of nurturing diverse talent at Citi since she became its head of markets in North America in 2008. For the past four years she has been co-chair of Citi Women, a global women's career-track initiative that involves more than 130,000 female employees. Another key to expanding options is to post more job openings so that employees could pursue available opportunities. In 2015, 96% of Citi jobs were posted, compared to only 40% in 2013.

Last year Harford used the women in trading program as a model to launch a network focused on other underrepresented groups at Citi. Her industry influence is equally impressive. Among other activities she was selected this year for the board of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

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