Deutsche Bank hosted the 19th Annual Women on Wall Street® (WOWS) conference in New York on October 15. This year’s theme, “Game Changers,” featured leaders who have defied conventional wisdom and taken risks to cultivate success in their careers.
Stephanie Tolischus, Deutsche Bank’s head of US Regulatory Management introduced Jacques Brand, the CEO of Deutsche Bank North America, who opened the conference. He called this a dynamic time for women in leadership. “Without a doubt, the ground is shifting with more and more respected women lending their voices and views that the path to professional success is not a one-size fits all proposition,” said Brand. “I am sure in this room tonight there are hundreds of examples of what success looks like and how to create a sustainable environment that sets women up for success. That is what I am keenly focused on – creating a culture of permanence, a culture that sustains itself on the notion that this is the way we do things all the time.”
Brand was followed by a fireside chat between former US Senator Olympia Snowe and Frank Kelly, Deutsche Bank Americas head of Government & Public Affairs. As a Senator, Snowe championed bipartisanship in a dysfunctional and partisan environment. Now, she is a game-changer influencing Washington from outside because “this is where the change will happen.” Snowe called on the audience: “You can do something about it. You have to weigh-in and convey you’re dissatisfaction. We are going to get the government we demand.”
Next, Kelly moderated a panel featuring Vicki Fuller, Chief Investment Officer, New York State Retirement Fund; Sallie Krawcheck, Owner, 85 Broads; Mary Schapiro, Managing Director and Chairman of the Governance and Markets Practice, Promontory Financial; and Clara Shih, CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social. Throughout the discussion, participants addressed a wide range of game-changing topics including transitions, obstacles, social media and networking.
Schapiro talked about managing the challenges of becoming Head of the SEC during the financial crisis. “I wanted lots of smart people around me and I wanted to be the hardest working person in the room,” she said. “We brought in new technologies, energized people with new leadership and committed to collaboration, and made all the pieces work together to turn the place around.”
Krawcheck shared game-changing decisions such as partially reimbursing investors for losses during her tenure as CEO of Citigroup’s Wealth Management Unit. She recalled: “If we don't share some of this pain, we are going to lose out in this business long term. And so I took the position, even though the fine print here says that you can lose all your money, let's partially reimburse our clients. Let's share the pain. There was a big battle. I won the battle, and lost my job.”
Kelly asked Shih how social media is changing the game for group-think mentality, and its impact on women. “Power, trust and influence have changed over the last decade, and social media is both a byproduct and accelerator of that shift. There are theories about how social networking can level the playing field and grow the number of weak connections we have. But some women may not be able to be out on the golf course, which means that with digital and social media communications, they can stay networked,” said Shih.
While the panelists agreed on the importance of networks, Kelly asked Fuller about particular challenges for women of color. "First I see challenges for women - period. I think for women of color, we are not, many times, in networks, to get information….I think it is harder. For me that is cause to leverage much of what I have learned; to help and give back,” said Fuller.
Roberta Kaplan, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, served as the conference’s final speaker. Kaplan, who won the landmark Supreme Court case which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, shared details of the case, concluding “the equivalent of the Battle of Normandy, in the great history struggle for the Civil Rights of gay people in our nation, has been won.”