Christine Guo, Wells Fargo | Most Powerful Women: Next
Director, Wells Fargo Strategic Capital
In less than three years, Christine Guo has helped get traction for an entirely new business offering that is producing impressive results.
Guo was the second hire on a new health care team for Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, which David Marks credits with an “unusually strong track record.” Marks, executive vice president for commercial capital, said the team has made investments in five companies that generated very strong returns. The portfolio’s first IPO, for a biotech firm called 10x Genomics, which builds gene-sequencing technology used in scientific research, yielded a return on investment he described as a “high multiple.”
“Beyond financial metrics, these companies are doing good things for people and the health care system,” Marks said.
And that, perhaps more than the returns themselves, is what drove Guo to become an equity investor specifically for the health care sector — work that has earned her a spot on our second annual Next list. (This extension of our Most Powerful Women in Banking program is meant to highlight high-achieving women in the leadership pipeline who are age 40 and under.)
Guo’s parents immigrated to the United States when she was a baby, and she joined them a few years later. Both of them had been doctors in China, but had to redo their training and residency here.
They own and run a primary care clinic in New York, which Guo affectionately refers to as “our family business.”
“I had the opportunity to grow up on the front lines of health care,” Guo said.
Christine is a culture champion, exemplifying the teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and ethics we look for.
The impact of watching her parents — “my heroes” — meeting such a critical need for people was indelible. “I’ve been able to see firsthand the impact that quality health care can provide as well as the human suffering and toll when that’s lacking,” she said. “So I think I’ve been able to develop an appreciation for how important this industry is from an early age.”
Guo now channels this empathy into all of her work. Without it, deals wouldn’t get done, she said, citing a recent equity opportunity that required longer and more intensive than usual due diligence.
“There are twists and turns in the diligence process that require trust and patience on both sides,” said Guo, who was recently promoted from vice president to director. “And if you can build that empathy on both sides of the table, that we want to do the right thing, we want to build a long-term partnership more than a transaction, I think that allows you to navigate more effectively.”
Guo had her first child — a girl — earlier this year, and she said she is thankful that Wells offers four months of leave for the primary care giver of newborns, be it the mother or the father.
“I know that this is not something that all companies can provide,” she said, regarding parity of maternity and paternity leave. “It is, I think, in some ways a luxury here at Wells Fargo to have that, but I think it goes a long way in promoting equality across genders.”
Executive vice president, Wells Fargo Commercial Capital
What he said:
Guo’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and “unusually strong bandwidth” have been instrumental in building the health care team. “In creating any new business, it is hard to overstate the importance of instilling the right culture and values from the outset,” Marks said. “Christine is a culture champion, exemplifying the teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and ethics we look for.”