With its alpha-male culture, Wall Street is a perilous place for women. From Zoe Cruz, former copresident at
About that New York magazine cover story on Zoe Cruz, "They Fired the Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street":
Can I say I didn't read it? When I saw the magazine, I thought, here we go again, another outsized headline about a Wall Street woman that will likely result in the microscope being placed on those of us who are left.
On Wall Street, women right now are having a conversation every time we get together that revolves around Zoe, Erin, and Hillary. It's about the pressures of Wall Street and politics, the role that media does or does not play, and what it takes for a woman or person of color to make it to the top.
Why fewer female M.B.A.s are choosing careers on Wall Street:
The unfortunate truth is that there are too few positive female role models in our industry, and there are too few women at the next level. So when each one goes, her absence is felt more than when it's one man. The root cause of it is that we aren't getting women through the system effectively enough. That--and the sensational press that sometimes comes along with the top jobs--doesn't make this industry as attractive as many others in which women don't have historic gender hurdles.
When I moved here from the CFO job, I was a bit surprised by all the "demotion" talk in the media, because when my predecessor moved from CFO to run part of the same $1.7 trillion asset business, it was perceived as a promotion.It was one of those things you read and said, Oh, that poor woman. . . . Wait a minute, they're talking about me!
Finding ways to get more women through the system:
If you look at where we lose women, it is at ages 30 to 35. In my experience, women and men at the age of 30 or 31 hit their first career plateau--they don't make vice president, they don't like their boss, or whatever. Typically, everyone makes it through that. Four years later, there's the second career plateau. The men continue to make it through, but I've seen numerous women who at that point say, "I'm out. It's not worth it. I have two beautiful children at home, and it's socially acceptable to be home. It's more fun at home."
During that second career plateau, if there are inherent biases, we should help women work through that by giving them additional skills, rather than take a Pollyanna, "We should make everyone not have biases" approach. If we can get women past their second career plateau, you'll find more making their way to the top--because it does get a lot easier when the kids are in school. It's a lot easier for me, with kids who are 12 and 14, than when they were 4 and 6.
Weathering the current financial crisis:
It's communicate, communicate, communicate to almost everyone, but first to the client-facing professionals: what just happened, what does it mean, why is it different maybe from what you're hearing in the gossip columns and on TV? You almost can't talk through it enough, because there is so much happening so quickly.
I am traveling more. In the past four weeks, I have been in the office [only] yesterday and today. And that travel is everywhere--from Budapest to Omaha to Jakarta--because nothing substitutes for in-person meetings.
Motivating her staff in the midst of a 24/7 bad-news economy:
We're not a go-out-and-drink-together kind of team. We have a lot of fun--some of the humor can break the tension over what's happening now. I am bowling on Thursday night, believe it or not. To cut the stress and the tension, a colleague of ours has put together a bowling night. I have not bowled since 1995. But I have a bowling shirt with a nickname on it, my friend.
Working with Citi's new CEO, Vikram Pandit:
There's an educational process on both sides. How do we in wealth management see our business, and what are his views that may be the same as ours and which may be somewhat different? How do we want to take the capital and invest it? So we need time together, sometimes on the fly: "I'm doing this; you okay with that?" "Okay, let's sit down. Need an hour on this."
Then there's finding that natural rhythm with him. The new boss likes phone calls; the old boss liked emails. I am asking how he wants to communicate.
On the Wall Street Journal blog saying that she publicly criticized her new boss's management style as causing paralysis at Citi:
It was unfortunate to see my words and intent get twisted in the press, but [Vikram and I] didn't dwell on it, because it didn't reflect the spirit of the interchange.
On whether government regulators are doing what's needed:
People will question, say, the bailout of Bear Stearns, and that is a very important part of our process in the U. S.--action is taken and we self-examine. Maybe Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke should go on Oprah, and we can all have a good chat about what they did and what they learned. I do like that we are hearing from Paulson about consolidating regulatory bodies. If we can have one regulatory body overseeing the financial markets, it will go some way toward preventing further turmoil--but not all the way. The creativity of market participants should never be underestimated.
You can't run a big organization if each and every one of us running it isn't searingly fo-cused on execution. It's the job of all of us to execute, so I spend more time than one might think with "my list." In fact, some of the folks around here have threatened to steal the list; they want to burn it. Strategy is the fun part. Meeting with your clients is the fun part. Execution is what gets it done, and every single one of us has to be focused on it--there's nothing fun about it.
On the art of backing away:
Counterintuitively, I am doing two things now that I have never done before: taking Saturdays off and exercising. For years, I refused to exercise. My thinking was, the media tells you to exercise, the media tells you to have this wonderful work/life balance. I rebelled against it. What's happened in this downturn, which I think is going to help me longer-term, is that I've found that backing away--even if it's just for a 45-minute run in the morning or taking time off on the weekend--is crucial to getting through this.
Dealing with all the travel...
It goes in waves. Part of the reason I haven't been here for the last four weeks is that the kids are at camp right now. I tell my husband, "I love you, I'm gone. We'll reconnect when they get home." On average [during the course of the work year], I'm probably gone half the time--sometimes it's all the time, and sometimes it's none of the time.
...And the nonstop work:
Here's my day: I wake up about 5:10; I run on most days. I'm in the office by, call it 7:30, and then it's meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting until--if I'm in the city and there's not a client event going on at night--I'm home by 7:30 or 8 and typically spend time with the kids--homework, a little watching over their shoulders.
And I carry work home every night. The desk goes in the bag. I like to carry about a week and a half's worth of work with me everywhere I go, in case I get stuck in traffic for a week and a half. It's both the mindless stuff for really late at night when you just have to get through the calendar and the nits and bits, and the stuff that I truly enjoy doing--the deeper reading. When I get an uninterrupted hour, that's pure heaven to me.
Emotion and the workplace:
As a younger person, I struggled with a temper and moods. [Now] I try to take no action in anger. Any action I've taken in anger I've almost uniformly regretted. You make that mistake a few times and you stop making it. You learn pretty quickly: Take a deep breath. That has meant that at times in my career, when I have felt angry about something, I let it sit for a minute, an hour, or a day. Once I had to wait two weeks before I went to talk to a colleague about [what made me angry]. I won't say what that was--it wasn't earthshaking. [But] for two weeks I wasn't able to approach it rationally, only emotionally. It's advice I give to everyone: Do not take action in anger.
To be successful as a director of research or as a manager, if you impose your mood on the organization, you're not getting the full amount out of the organization. I learned about that when I moved from being an analyst to director of research at Bernstein [Sanford C. Bernstein & Company]. If I were to come to work in a bad mood, I wouldn't be able to celebrate the analysts' achievements. If I were to come in a great mood and someone had just made a bad call and wanted to spend time on it, I wouldn't be able to appropriately coach the analyst through it. It's important that you project a narrower band of moods so that you can help coach the people you're working with.
It's a matter of discipline. Every emotion doesn't have to enter into the office every day. If you fight with your next-door neighbor, say, you have to close that door and not take it to the office with you. And vice versa--you have to be able to close the door at work and go home and not let the negative or positive impact home life as well. Which is why exercise has gotten so important, because it's a means of moving from one to the other.
The secret behind her great career leaps:
I have worked very hard during my career and I think that's what's defined it. Not being averse to rolling up my sleeves and really, truly getting into the details and the weeds but also having the confidence to take on new opportunities. I also have a view that if the worst thing that can happen to you is you fail, that's not such a bad thing.
Favorite part of the day:
I'm most productive in the morning. I love my run. Of course, there used to be nothing like coming through the door at the end of the day and having the kids greet you. Now [that they're older], I come through the door and if I'm lucky I get a grunt. Actually, my favorite part of the day, some days, is that first sip of wine at night. It's a stress reducer.
Taking the long view:
I see a business career a little like I see flying through turbulence--you can hold on really tight and go up and down every bump, but the truth is, the overwhelming chance is that you're going to make it from point A to point B. You're just going to buck a bit.
KRAWCHECK's RULES FOR SUCCESS
1. Choose your spouse or partner carefully. I often say this as a joke, but there is almost no other choice that you can make that will have as much of an impact--positive or negative--on your career.
2. No one ever procrastinated herself to the top. Do what you do with passion, without constantly questioning yourself and beating yourself up on it, as some women can.
3. Surround yourself with the right people--people who bring strong values and a diversity of thought.
4. Enjoy the ride. If you wait to have fun until after the next board meeting, business presentation, or client pitch is done, you'll never have any. Don't waste your business life--it's too precious to spend it being tense all the time. Celebrate often and forgive yourself for all the unimportant things.
5. Know when to go against the flow. Many of the great decisions are anti-consensus. This can go against our very instinct, particularly as women, of liking to be liked.
6. Don't let what the chattering classes say bother you, be they the press, the pundits, or your "frenemies." It is easy to be critical of others and almost impossible to walk in their shoes.
7. Live a life of integrity, even if it means getting fired.
8. Don't give up. A number of my women friends have opted out during the second or third career plateau. It can pay off to simply hang on during the tougher times.
9. Don't let your career happen to you. Don't wait for HR to offer the raise or find you the next great opportunity.
10. Take time to love the important people in your life--especially your children--fully. But never, ever show guilt over working to your children. If they see an opening, they will be relentless.