Were you always interested in banking?
I have yet to find a woman who grew up thinking she wanted to be a banker. I was a teller during my school days and I loved it because I loved the people and it was quick. I thrived on the fast pace. I have a liberal arts degree. I wanted to be a fashion buyer and travel around the world spending someone else’s money.
I met my husband in college and we married young. I soon became pregnant and knew I was not going to be able to travel the world, so I went back to the only other profession that I knew and enjoyed.
What was your first position?
I was a teller, then moved up the ranks. When I was promoted to a junior private banker, my eyes were opened to wealth management.
Where are you from?
I was born in Poland and moved to the US when I was just one year old, but I spent most summers growing up in Poland. My father didn’t speak English and he learned on his own. He now owns a business and is living the American dream.
Did you have a mentor?
My father was my first mentor. I believe I get my drive and ambition from him. I had a manager in Chicago when I was 37 years old and there were very few women in management. He forced me to take ownership of my decisions, good or bad.
What brought you to San Diego?
After 10 years in banking, I made a career change to come here. I didn’t know anyone here. My husband’s career is mobile, so geography didn’t hold me back. I was done with cold weather and snow and we wanted to move to the West Coast.
What is your greatest challenge in managing 200 people?
Basically, it’s communication. I have to make sure I craft my message in a way that will be best received by the person. We sell service, and if I don’t connect and communicate with my people—game over. I meet with every person on my team every quarter.
What is the ratio between men and women on your team?
My most senior advisory wealth managers are all women. My six team leaders are evenly split between male and female.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
I hope that it has been mentoring to help individuals gain confidence in their own abilities and having the courage to speak up and to be proactive. I am mentoring four women right now. I’m starting a West Coast women’s summit to create a forum where client-facing wealth management professional women come together. The goal is to share best practices, be inspired, and learn from other successful women.
How do men perceive you as a leader?
Usually, older men will have a problem reporting to a younger woman. Some may not be able to adjust, and it’s challenging for them to accept me. I have to work a little harder at it in those situations. I must change the way I communicate and put my ego aside.
What do you do to give back?
I’m on the board of the San Diego Symphony and the Lux Art Institute. My real love is animals. Most of my personal giving goes to animals.
How do you spend your downtime?
Exercise is big for us as a couple. We go to the beach and spend time playing with our dogs.
Could you ever be CEO of Wells Fargo?
Why not? We are only limited by the walls that we put up in front of us. The only people that limit us are ourselves. I want to do well for my team, because this is a "we."