the signing and closing dinner. No one
had a hard time remembering which
navy blue suit I was.
My thought process was always
“vive la difference.” I was always very
outspoken (“Gail, I can’t believe you
said that!” And my response would be,
“Really? You were thinking the same
thing. I just had the nerve to say it.”)
and people in those days seemed to
have very finite ideas of how women
should speak and act. I never really
fit the mold. But I decided early on in
my career to tie myself to the production of revenue. That way, people paid
more attention to the bottom line
produced and less to inconsequential
nonsense. Organizations are always
interested in people who have a book
of business, who can produce revenue.
It makes you marketable.
Not everyone is cut out for sales.
You have to be assertive to win
business and some may tag you as
“aggressive” or “emotional” or worse,
tell you that you are in a “man’s” job.
I was very successful at generating
revenue as a business development
officer early in my career as well as
putting teams together and running
a P&L. A good team will make you suc-
cessful, so a fair manager never has to
resort to taking credit for what his/her
team produces. Bottom line results
speak for themselves. I found out
early on that the squeaky wheels get
the grease and that, if you can back
up whatever you’re asking for with
results — which I was always able to
do — you have a lot more leeway than
if you cannot.
There are women in top leadership
roles in ABL now, running P&Ls, but
you can count them on one hand. Bill
Kosis, the president of our ABL, has
supported women in leadership roles.
Our heads of field exam and operations are women as well as two of our
portfolio managers, and they are the
indispensable backbone of our unit.
However, I would like to see more
women on the business development
side. But women have to do their part,
too. At PNC’s ABL unit, I have seen
very few women graduate from the
training program, and, after spending
time in field exam and underwriting,
go into business development. As
recently as last week, I talked to a
manager at a bank four times the size
of PNC. I thought our numbers were
low with six women business development officers; they had two. Ladies,
this is an opportunity. Step up to the
I think the board has done a great
job at the CFA of including more
women and people of color, but ten
years ago it was all-white, all-male. We
have evolved, but I think we need to
continue to evolve.
As far as what advice would I offer
to young women, I would say, work
hard, be the best that you can be, go
the extra mile without being asked!
I do think women get tested a little
bit more. But if you show you know
what you’re doing, you can advance.
Put yourself in situations where you
can learn and progress. Let your boss
know what your goals are. Be vocal on
salaries, bonuses and promotions if
they are deserved. And, by all means,
keep a sense of humor because this
journey will have bumps in the road.
I have handled some of my toughest
situations with humor. Most of them
occurred in my business dealings in
Latin America, but that may be mate-
rial for a future book.
About 15 years ago, I gave a talk
with Vicky Balmot, who was then
at Congress/Wachovia, on whether
there’s a glass ceiling. And the answer
back then was, yes, there was a glass
ceiling. But you can’t act like there is
one or we won’t progress. I think the
ceiling has opened, and take advan-
tage of that. Women don’t ask for the
business or promotions as readily as
men. Women should focus on sales
positions more than they do. I think
running a P&L is where the money and
the power is, so more women should
focus on that as an ultimate goal.
The commercial finance industry
is not alone in needing to improve its
percentage of women and minorities
in mid-to-top management. It also
applies to many of the people we
finance. PE firms and the investment
banks have very few women partners.
Venture capital has been more open
to women. I still don’t think you see
very many women partners though.
And my question to all the men in all
industries would be: “What are you
personally doing to clear the path for
I often wonder what the men are
The challenges: there were hardly any
women in the industry, but then again,
there were hardly any women in my
MBA program back then either (my
last class at USC in ’ 79 was comprised
of 250 students, of which only 7 were
women. It was a competition run-
ning a company. The women formed
a team: we won the competition).