As Chair of the CFA 40 Under 40
Awards Leadership Council, why do
you think these awards are so important?
These awards are important as we
all invest in the future leaders of our
business and industry. Recognizing the talent in our businesses and
industry is vital. We have a lot of truly
talented young people in our collective industry and acknowledging and
shining a light on the talent is critical.
We all look for ways to recognize and
reward talented people on an ongoing
basis and this has become a prestigious award in the asset-based lending and factoring industry.
What can the industry do to attract
and retain more young professionals?
I think there are a number of important things we can do to attract young
talent in our industry. I would place
them into three categories: 1) Training, 2) Coaching, and 3) Providing a
variety of opportunities. In terms of
training, we should continue to offer
good training to our young people
who are still learning the business.
Some of this can be formal training
at the beginning of their career and
some of this is ongoing, with our
more senior people investing time to
train our younger people. Secondly,
it’s important that we offer coaching
for our younger talent, both in terms
of providing ongoing feedback, and
helping them think about various opportunities in the industry and with
our respective institutions. Thirdly,
I do think that young people want to
experience different things over their
career and they want to be constantly
learning and challenged. We strive to
provide those opportunities for learning and advancement.
What “soft skills” do you think are
most important for success in the
commercial finance industry?
I would highlight three necessary
skills. First, I think it’s critically important to work well within a team. So
much of what we do is working with
other people, whether it be within
our specific group, with other teammates in the Bank, or with our clients.
Secondly, I think flexibility is a must.
We operate in a dynamic business
environment, and our clients’ needs
are often changing. Those individuals who embrace change and who are
flexible in their approach will have an
advantage. Lastly, strong communication skills are helpful and important.
Asking questions is important, and realizing when you need more guidance
is a strength, not a weakness.
You’re a member of BofA’s Ally program that supports LGBT associates.
Please tell us about the program and
why you decided to participate.
I am a fierce supporter, and advocate
for our LGBT teammates in Bank of
America Business Capital and throughout our institution. I truly believe
that everyone should be comfortable
bringing their whole selves to work,
should not have to adjust who they
are when they walk through the door
every day. I believe deeply in equality,
and providing an inclusive working environment for everyone. I also believe
this allows people to perform at their
highest level. I am truly proud to be
an Ally for our LGBT teammates, and
proud of all the programs and benefits
we offer at Bank of America.
It’s been proven that a diverse
workforce improves efficiency and,
ultimately, the bottom line. Have you
seen this effect at Bank of America
Yes. We have had success improving
diversity at all levels of our organization over the past 10 years. Our
clients are now more diverse than
ever before, and having a diverse team
to serve our clients allows us to be
more effective and more competitive.
Furthermore, a diverse team of people
provides different points of view and
ideas, which ultimately allows us to
better serve our clients. We think it’s
not only the right thing to do, but also
good for our business, and allows us
to be more competitive. TSL
Michele Ocejo is editor-in-chief, The
Secured Lender, and director of communications, CFA.