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In conversation with Fiona Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer, Wells Fargo

Going above and beyond

In our ‘Path to CEO’ series, Wells Fargo Bank International Chief Executive Officer Fiona Gallagher reflects on her career journey.

Q: Can you share your professional journey to date?

What has enabled you to achieve such an incredible career?"I put my career into stages: I left Ireland in 1998, immediately after university. I went to New York and started working in the analyst training programme in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. I was working on issuing bonds for clients, so I got to see how the financial markets worked. For me, it really brought finance to life. I worked at Merrill Lynch and at Barclays in New York. While with Barclays, they asked me to move to London to become Head of Private Placements, Europe. I went from being the deal person to making that first step into management, another important stage in my career. I was with Barclays for about a year, then the team moved to Deutsche Bank and I joined as European Head of Private Placements. Later, I was asked to be Head of Global Relationship Management, looking across all of the clients we had in Capital Markets and Treasury Solutions; client interactions; how we were making money, how were we looking after clients. It was a much bigger management role for me, with around 2,000 people brought together into this new group. Although I really enjoyed working at Deutsche, one of the main attractions of moving to Wells Fargo two years ago was the opportunity to build something. The other was my continued desire to learn."

Key quotes from Fiona on:

Key leadership characteristics

I think one of the crucial characteristics of a CEO is to be interested. They have to understand the business and the financials, but they also have to understand their people.

Advice for aspiring leaders

Organisations are looking for leaders, and the reality is, leaders don’t just keep their head down and do the job. They look up every so often and see what else they can get involved in.

Gender balance in the industry

I think we will continue to see more success from a diversity perspective if we start to create an inclusive environment where people feel they can be themselves in work. The more open people can be, the more chance we have of getting the best out of them.

Effective communication

The best leaders are not the ones who come out on stage and perform, but they come out on stage, and they communicate. How are they doing that? Introvert or extrovert, the ones who are successful are the ones who have actually taken time to say, ‘How can I deliver a message?’, or, ‘How can I engage with someone in a way that will work with them?’ And they’ve probably adapted their styles over the years for different types of meetings. My approach is to look at the audience and decide on the best way to reach them.

This is a short excerpt from the full interview available to download as part of FinSight magazine.

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