Tag Archive: aiming high

Time Warner Diversity Chief Aims High

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Champions of business women have been honored each year since 2001 by the prominent civil rights organization Legal Momentum with its Aiming High award. Lisa Garcia Quiroz, senior vice president, president of the Time Warner Foundation, and chief diversity officer of Time Warner, is one of three honorees this year.

Lisa Garcia Quiroz

The seventeenth annual Legal Momentum Aiming High Awards will be presented at a luncheon on June 15 in New York City.

In addition to Garcia Quiroz, this year’s award recipients are:

  • Stephanie Drescher, global head, business development & investor relationship management, Apollo Global Management
  • Brad S. Karp, chair, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and winner of the Man of Distinction honor

Few people in the workforce can claim that they have worked for the greater part of their careers helping to advance women in their workplace. Garcia Quiroz counts herself among the privileged few. When asked about the role that the women in her working life played in her own career development, she said that she owed much of her success to women who reached back to pull her up along with them.

Before moving to Time Warner’s corporate offices and taking on this new position, she served as the founding publisher of People en Español, a position she earned after proving herself as the founding publisher of Time for Kids.

Through her work at Time Warner, she has always placed a priority on amplifying diverse story tellers’ voices. NACD is honored to amplify her voice and to celebrate her leadership along with Legal Momentum. In a recent interview, Garcia Quiroz reflected on her role within a company of storytellers.

What is your approach to setting diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility strategies at Time Warner?

I will tell you that all of the initiatives that I work on at Time Warner have a definitive thread going through them—this idea of diversity and inclusion (D&I)—but for me, I felt it was really important to root it in the business of the company.

I don’t take that commitment lightly. I don’t mean what’s the business case for diversity and share that with my colleagues. No. I first ask, what does diversity mean for a media company? What are the most important outcomes that can come out of a robust diversity effort at a media company? Then, how can we be sure to integrate those principles into the core of this company? Our company is a company of storytellers. We create content. Bearing that in mind, what I did was develop a diversity portfolio that set goals that were very much in line with a company that had its success inextricably linked to talent.

How has being a woman shaped your opportunities to lead through your career? How have mentors helped you along the way? 

I would say that most of my significant opportunities were as a result of a woman reaching back and pulling me up with her. For example, Ann Moore was the legendary head of People magazine and went on to become the CEO of Time Inc. Ann was an incredible mentor of mine. She’s still a terrific friend and was the person that gave me the opportunity to be publisher of People en Español. What’s significant about that is that, honestly, I got that job probably five to seven years earlier than I should have, but she believed in me and gave me the type of support and mentoring that I needed to ensure that I was successful in that role. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Everybody has big moments in his or her career. I think choosing to do Time for Kids and getting the funding for it was a way of getting noticed in a place where perhaps you wouldn’t be noticed as quickly being a young woman of color.

When I came here to corporate, I worked for another terrific woman named Pat Fili-Krushel, who was also a fantastic boss. It’s unusual—in 27 years I’ve worked mostly for women. When I was growing up at the company, that typically wouldn’t have been the case.

You were on the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which funds national service programs such as AmeriCorps*VISTA and SeniorCorps, from 2010–2015. You also served as chair for nearly three years. What motivated you to serve on this particular board?

I was struck by the chance to give people—young and old—the opportunity to serve in communities that they had never known about before. Consider sending someone from New York to the rural south for a year of service at a nonprofit, or sending a young woman from Alexandria, Virginia, to East Los Angeles, or to southern Texas. This is an important opportunity for Americans to really develop a sense of empathy, community, and understanding for what it means to be American. When we live in our little enclaves, it’s very hard to get a sense of that, even in a place like New York City.

A lot of young men and women have a similar experience in the military because they’re serving alongside people that come from all sorts of different locations. [Ret. U.S.] Army General Stanley A. McChrystal talks a lot about the fact that in the military you bring people together from all walks of life to experience and grow with others you may have never encountered otherwise. He points out that now, as our military shrinks, we should be doubling down on other forms of public service as a way to create a sense of greater understanding and appreciation for this country. He has asked whether there is a way of making national service almost mandatory. While this program has enjoyed bi-partisan support in the past, the programs funded by the CNCS are now under threat. Perhaps we should be thinking about how to create more opportunities for young people instead of diminishing them.

Aiming High: Barbara J. Desoer

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Barbara J. Desoer

Since 2001, the prominent civil rights organization Legal Momentum has honored the most successful and influential people who advance women in the business community with its Aiming High Award. Barbara J. Desoer, CEO of Citibank, N.A. (CBNA), is one of the five people being honored this year. The 16th annual Legal Momentum Aiming High Award honorees will be celebrated at a luncheon on June 7 in New York City. In addition to Desoer, this year’s award recipients are:

  • Lynn R. Charytan, executive vice president and general counsel, Comcast Cable, senior vice president and senior deputy general counsel Comcast Corp.
  • J. Michael Cook, retired chair and CEO, Deloitte
  • Barbara J. Desoer, CEO, Citibank, N.A.
  • Natasha Lamb, partner, Arjuna Capital
  • Tracey T. Travis, executive vice president and CFO, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

After a 35-year career at Bank of America, Desoer joined CBNA as chief operating officer in 2013, and in April 2014 was named CBNA CEO and to its board of directors. Citibank, N.A. accounts for approximately 75 percent of Citigroup’s total assets, and it is the primary entity within which Citigroup engages in activities through branches and subsidiaries in 95 countries and territories including the United States.

In addition to other executive roles, Desoer is co-head of Citigroup’s global women’s initiative called Citi Women. Recognizing that women make up more than half of Citigroup’s workforce, Citi Women is a company-wide effort to improve the development, advancement, and retention of women at all levels of banking. Diversity programs are a hallmark of Citi’s cultural experience that has fostered employee advancement throughout the 95 countries and territories in which Citi provides commercial, retail, and private banking products and services. Aside from her board service at Citigroup, Desoer is a director on the board of DaVita HealthCare Partners and is on the board of visitors at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned an MBA in finance from the Haas School of Business. She also holds a BA in mathematics from Mount Holyoke College.

NACD Directorship magazine asked Desoer to identify and address how personal champions and mentors have helped advance her own career. An edited transcript of this Q&A follows.

How have mentors helped you in your career?A mentor of mine is Tom Clausen, former CEO of Bank of America and president of the World Bank, with whom I worked closely while at Bank of America. He was a critical advisor to me at several points in my career—asking me probing questions that enabled me to consider different perspectives that I might otherwise have been blind to. He did not give me any answers —he helped guide and inform my thought process, which was invaluable and allowed me to accelerate my development and growth.

Who have been your greatest champions? My greatest champion is Liam McGee. While at Bank of America together, Liam threw me into countless situations that proved to be some of the most challenging and valuable opportunities that I’ve experienced. Liam had the uncanny ability to be right there when I needed him most while also knowing when to give me rope to go at it alone. It’s an approach I try to emulate with my team today. Both Tom and Liam have passed, and I miss their guidance and friendship. But their support and the lessons I learned from them resonate today and I am a better leader as a result.

Some CEOs have held town meetings with employees, while others strive to have their management and board teams set the cultural tone. Is there any approach or method to create a culture of inclusion that you would suggest based on your considerable experience? For me, it’s spending time with members of the Citi team in whatever venue I can. I get energy from my teammates, and it is an important feedback loop that can help to determine what is working and what needs to be rethought. I recently returned from two full days of meetings in Zurich with various team members, listening to their concerns, thoughts and ideas, while reinforcing the strategic context for what they are doing. Even the best and brightest need support. One should not underestimate the value of face-to-face meetings and providing well-timed context and perspective to any given body of work or initiative.

Since 2012, NACD Directorship magazine has served as the media partner for the Aiming High awards.

Aiming High: J. Michael Cook

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J. Michael Cook

Since 2001, the prominent civil rights organization Legal Momentum has honored the most successful and influential people who advance women in the business community with its Aiming High Award. J. Michael Cook, former chair and CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP, is one of the five people being honored this year and the first male recipient of the award.

This year’s 16th annual Legal Momentum Aiming High award honorees will be celebrated at a luncheon on June 7 in New York. They are:

  • Lynn R. Charytan, executive vice president and general counsel, Comcast Cable, senior vice president and senior deputy general counsel Comcast Corp.
  • J. Michael Cook, retired chair and CEO, Deloitte
  • Barbara J. Desoer, CEO, Citibank, N.A.
  • Natasha Lamb, partner, Arjuna Capital
  • Tracey T. Travis, executive vice president and CFO, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

In 1989, Cook was serving as chair and CEO of the then newly formed professional services firm Deloite LLP, which resulted from the merger of Deloitte Haskins & Sells and Touche Ross. The following year, Cook was reviewing the slate of candidates being considered for partner status and noticed that very few of them were women. When he took a more extensive look at his company’s gender dynamics, he noticed a troubling trend: although hiring practices created a roughly even mix of men and women throughout the company, there was a much higher turnover of women employees—even women who had been with the firm for a number of years. Aside from the negative impact that a revolving door of employees had on maintaining client services, Cook knew that the company was also losing wellsprings of talent.

Not everyone saw the problem as Cook did, however. In a recent telephone interview, Cook recalled how one partner suggested that Deloitte simply hire more men so that the firm wouldn’t feel the workforce fluctuations so acutely. “He was telling me that he wanted the firm to hire less capable people,” Cook said. “I said that we’re not going to do that. We can’t provide high-quality client service by hiring a group of people that is not of the highest quality.”

In his search for a solution, Cook sought help from Catalyst to take a careful look at the organization. It tuned out that company culture was the primary culprit for the high rate of departures. Catalyst first interviewed a pool of women who left the firm and found that they weren’t leaving Deloitte to be full-time parents—they left to work at other companies whose schedules allowed for a better balance between work and home life. This was hardly surprising as dual career couples were becoming more common, but the implementation of Deloitte’s policies wasn’t keeping up with that societal shift.

After extensive research and analysis, Cook responded by launching the Women’s Initiative in 1993. The program allowed all employees flexible work arrangements and programs were implemented to assure that women could have the same career trajectory at the firm as their male counterparts. One result of this focus on fostering an inclusive culture has been Deloitte being named to Fortunemagazine’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” list in addition to being hailed by Working Mother Media as one of the best companies for working mothers. “This was not just progress for women, it was progress for everybody,” Cook says. “The men used some of the flexibility that we provided because they were spouses in dual career families and needed more time for things other than working. Being with family is important to everyone.”

Cook, who retired from Deloitte in 1999, looks back on his six years leading the program and the positive impact the Women’s Initiative had. “Deloitte now has a woman as the CEO of the firm and has a woman who is the CEO of consulting business of the firm, which is the largest component of the firm these days. And they were picked because they were the best qualified person for those jobs, but not because of their gender. The culture of the firm now enables women to become ‘best qualified’ for the very top executive positions.”

Since 2012, NACD Directorship magazine has served as the media partner for the Aiming High awards.