I began my 28-year career at Citibank in New york City as a part-time teller while attending university. Never in a million years did I believe this job would lead to a senior executive position. I completed a management training program and became a branch manager, a position that gave me my first opportunity to run a profit and loss (P&L) report. This experience was pivotal for me in forming the foundation to run a business.
After a few years, I was asked to move to the Latin America region. So, my husband quit his job, the first of many times he would do so to accommodate my career, and we moved south. I have been blessed with a great partner.
By gaining exposure to the CEO of Latin America, I made it clear I wanted to be a country head. In 1999, I was given that chance in Venezuela.
A few years later, I raised my hand again, grabbing an opportunity to work on a bank acquisition in south Korea. My husband and I took off again, now with two kids in tow. South Korea was an extremely tough environment for women, but the experience gave me invaluable tools. I gained first-hand knowledge working where two groups have radically different perspectives. I obtained personal experience running a business in a market where cultural norms are quite different. I managed crisis scenarios as we worked through conflicts with labor.
After three years, I raised my hand to return to North America where I was appointed CEO of Citibank Canada, my current position.
In closing I thought I would share some key career management strategies:
- Speak your mind, but be relevant.
- Build your brand and toot your own horn—often.
- Spend time on significant projects.
- Devote 80 percent of your time to working your job and 20 percent to managing your career.
- Have specific business and people skills, and be clear on what you are really good at.
- Act with authority: Communicate a vision, take risks, and make things happen.
- Have some fun. Life is too short!