Looking back at her first days in banking – which she thought was a ‘stop-over’ en-route to law school – Cathy realized there was something special about being among the few senior female bankers. She accepted a job offer from the only bank where she met a female senior vice president, and thus began her own 35-plus year career with Bank of America.
Assigned to make cold calls to corporate and commercial clients, Cathy learned an important lesson. “It was easy for me to get the first call with a company because a woman calling was so unusual,” recalls Cathy. “However, the second call would be a lot harder because the standard was higher for a woman than a man.”
To keep the client’s attention, Cathy says she managed , “In the same way most women deal with everything – by being super prepared, and not being out-worked by anyone.”
With one chance to make an impression, she also discovered the power of “two degrees of separation”. In Cathy’s words, “I learned that if I knew enough about the person I was calling, I could find two degrees of separation to make the conversation customized and memorable.”
And Cathy is clear that “memorable” isn’t about giving a good performance but rather “making an authentic connection with someone,” possibly through their personal interests or background: “It’s never just about business, since the person you are dealing with is the net sum of every aspect of their life.”
Adding that, “We are in the trust business in financial services, so you need to know the people you are meeting and understand what motivates them. These connect points are memorable and they build trust.”
She explained how trust and credibility are critical at every level, whether it’s the CEOs who must trust their lives to the people that report to them, a client who must trust the people who provide advice, or a regulator who trusts you are committed to regulatory excellence.”