Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 22, Barclays' Barbara Mariniello

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Americas Head of Debt Capital Markets, Barclays

In the run-up to a recent meeting at which Barbara Mariniello and her team at Barclays’ investment bank planned to host a client for lunch, they decided to dispense with a pitchbook and instead designed a menu featuring courses for each of the topics on the agenda.

The meal began with an appetizer of “Green Bond Salad,” followed by a main course of “Steak-au-Probability” and, for dessert, “Great British Pound Cake.”

“Our team is known for laughing frequently,” says Mariniello, the U.K.-based bank’s head of debt capital markets for the Americas. “Having some fun on the job and finding humor in the capital markets sets a great tone for our group and is one of the reasons we’ve been successful at gaining market share.”

Keeping things light has paid off. Under Mariniello’s leadership, Barclays has led two of the biggest debt deals in history: last year’s $40 billion sale of bonds by CVS Health to help pay for its acquisition of the insurer Aetna, and the sale of $46 billion in bonds by Anheuser-Busch InBev to help fund its acquisition of SABMiller in 2016.

Barclays now ranks among the largest underwriters for corporate bonds in the Americas, with a 7% fee share, as of late August.

In addition to keeping her team of 55 people in good humor — an advantage Mariniello learned from her sister, whose jokes broke the tension in the huddles of soccer games they played together as girls — Mariniello pushes them to lean into challenges.

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“It’s a competitive business,” she says. “So we ask what else we can do to be a little bit smarter than the next person. If you dig in more, you are going to learn, be rewarded, have more success and feel better about the job you’re doing.”

Mariniello tends to think of herself as a realist, a consequence, she says, of growing up in New England as a fan of the Patriots and Red Sox in the years before both teams became champions. “I realize you can compartmentalize things and, now look, we have a whole new generation of New England sports fans who are growing up as optimists.”

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