Can you hear me now?: If women want to get ahead, they’ll need to start getting men to listen to them. For that, they’re going to have to start speaking their language, said Cathy Bessant, Bank of America’s chief operations and technology officer. One way to do that is to talk about results first and process — the part that women tend to emphasize — second, she said. “What I figured out pretty quickly is that I thought I was saying things that resonated with the hardcore bankers, but in reality I was using words that caused them to stop listening to me,” she told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “To a hardcore banker, that’s backwards. What they want to know is, ‘Why should I care?’” Some results have more sway than others, so it’s also useful to emphasize generating revenue ahead of strengthening client relationships, she said, noting that she made this adjustment after a banker once asked her why his team should sell a particular product that she had suggested. “What I normally would have said is, ‘Because it will help build a great relationship with your clients.’ What I said instead was, ‘It’s going to contribute about $400 million to your revenue line this year,’” she said. “Those are two different ways of communicating.”
Yes, I am listening: B of A’s head of digital banking, Michelle Moore, considers listening skills — she says she spends time reading customer feedback almost daily and sees every review of Bank of America’s mobile app — to be one of the keys to her success as a leader. “I’ve learned that one of the best ways to help others is by listening,” she said in this wide ranging interview, where she also talks about work-life balance and the need for women in the workplace to seize opportunities.
Think globally, act locally: Bank of the West has a new logo that emphasizes the connection to its longtime French parent company, BNP Paribas. Its intent is to sell more retail banking products to BNP corporate customers and to give BNP more opportunity to sell its products to Bank of the West customers. But decision-making at the San Francisco-based bank will remain local. “We are not going to lose our local flavor,” said Bank of the West’s chief executive, Nandita Bakhshi, who unveiled the logo at the BNP Paribas Open. (Bakhshi is in our Most Powerful Women in Banking rankings, and you can read our feature story about her here.)
A measure of compensation: Royal Bank of Canada's recently retired chief financial officer, Janice Fukakusa, was the highest-paid woman among Canada’s eight largest banks for fiscal 2016, and the $3.47 million she earned sets a new standard for top female executives in her country. Fukakusa, one of the few women whose pay has kept pace with her male counterparts over the years, ranks at No. 20 for compensation among all of Canada’s top banking executives. Others who appear on the list below Fukakusa include: RBC’s Jennifer Tory, National Bank of Canada’s Diane Giard and TD’s Colleen Johnston and Teri Currie. Across Canada’s eight largest banks just 21% (that is 9 counting Fukakusa) of the senior executives named in regulatory filings are women and none are CEOs. Fukakusa, 62, retired in January, and Rod Bolger moved up to the CFO role at RBC.
Floored: Forget about gauging Yolande Piazza’s influence by the size of her office. The Citi FinTech CEO doesn’t have one. Digital disruption has led many companies to modify their work culture to emulate those in Silicon Valley, and her Citigroup unit reflects this trend. “We’ve spent a lot of time creating a nontraditional banking culture,” as a way to foster creativity, Piazza said. “I do not have an office, I sit on the floor.” The mantra “fail fast, fail often” is a familiar one in Silicon Valley, and to embrace that spirit, Piazza is not merely tolerant of failure, she celebrates it. “If someone makes a mistake, they actually win prizes for sharing that,” she said. “All they have to do is demonstrate they learned something from it.”
Mobilizing its resources: National Capital Bank in Washington launched its mobile banking app in July, which is after the point at which half of Americans were banking through mobile apps. Since then, a quarter of its online banking users have started banking with their mobile devices. It is partly because of the $416 million-asset bank’s limited resources that it took so long to get going in mobile. But it hired Randy Anderson as its new CEO last summer, and he made tech a top priority, according to Debra Keats, chief retail administration officer. Keats is confident that the wait time has paid off, allowing the bank “to make sure we get it right the first time.”
All the world's a stage and all the men … players: Meet Paula Vogel and Lynn Nottage, two Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights whose works are staged globally and read in college classes. This season they are finally making their debuts on Broadway — whose audience is almost 70% women. Theirs will be the only two new plays written by women alongside the eight new plays written by men. There are different theories about why their earlier plays haven't reached Broadway — basic sexism, content, scale, timing — but Vogel and Nottage both point out that plays about similar subjects written by men have run on Broadway, successfully, and say that they have been disappointed by producers and nonprofits not moving their plays along. “’How I Learned to Drive’ is being done all over the world,” Vogel said of her play. “It’s being done on large Broadway-sized stages in Iceland, for God’s sake. So why is it not universal? Why are we not in that canon?”