Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 23, Deutsche Bank's Michaela Ludbrook

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Americas Head of the Global Transaction Bank, Deutsche Bank

Sometimes direction comes from the back seat.

At least it did one day as Michaela Ludbrook sorted through an issue from her car on the phone with a colleague. The matter resolved, Ludbrook explained to her son why she had to take the call.

“The situation is fixed, so why do you need to talk about it tonight?” her son replied.

The response reminded Ludbrook of a realization she’s had throughout a career in which she rose to lead both Deutsche Bank’s global securities services business and its global transaction bank in the Americas. “Sometimes having a different perspective is the best lesson,” she said.

Ludbrook joined Deutsche in 2014 after nearly eight years at Goldman Sachs (including five in asset management) and 15 years in operations leadership roles at JPMorgan Chase in London, Tokyo and New York. The experience of working in several countries and with colleagues from a mix of cultures resonated with Ludbrook.

“I learned to appreciate that to be part of some of the most interesting career opportunities you have to put yourself in the best position to be noticed in a way that suits your style,” she says.

She also learned to lead by example, a lesson she strives to impart to her team of roughly 630 people.

“It’s important to provide real examples,” she said. “So celebrate when someone does far more than what’s required, and always take the time to acknowledge your team’s contributions.”

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At one meeting early in her career at Deutsche, Ludbrook reconstituted the agenda in real time after realizing that it did not help to solve the problem at hand. “Setting the requirements and outlining that if one team failed, we all failed, produced buy-in and very quickly results started to turn positive,” she said.

Ludbrook clearly has a knack for reframing, which may explain where her son learned his.

“Talking situations out with those around me, encouraging others to do the same, or sometimes even drawing or writing out a scenario creates some calm and focus even in the most pressured environment,” she said. “It’s amazing how a few simple tips can lead to much more thoughtful decisions.”

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