Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 14, UBS' Suni Harford

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Global Head of Investments, UBS Asset Management

When a senior executive from a rival company is suddenly your new boss, the stress and uncertainty can be tough to deal with — and it make take months until you have a real sense of what she is like.

But when Suni Harford left her old position at Citigroup to take over UBS Asset Management last year, employees didn’t have to wait too long to get to know her. Harford made sure of that by traveling more than 70,000 miles in her first six months on the job in an effort to meet every one of her group’s 500 employees, from secretaries to managing directors.

Harford, whose group manages $680 billion of assets, credits the “listening tour” she undertook with boosting team morale, accelerating her own understanding of the company, and bringing to the surface issues — and solutions — that might otherwise have been overlooked.

The bond she forged with the workforce made it easier for Harford to press forward with several new initiatives, such as launching of a program that makes the sustainable investing experts easily accessible to fund managers across asset classes, and centralizing management, governance, and audit functions for her division.

While she may be dialing back on travel, Harford still has a full slate of plans to execute on, including an effort to bring more women into senior leadership roles.

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