Know Your Value: Q&A with Citi’s David Chubak
By Ana Duarte McCarthy, Chief Diversity Officer, Citi June 16, 2015 11:00 AM
Photo Credit: Andrew Snow Photography for msnbc.
David Chubak, Head of Productivity at Citi, was a panelist at the May 15th Know Your Value program in Washington, D.C. After the event, I caught up with David and asked him a few questions:
Can you tell us a little bit about your role as Citi’s Head of Productivity?
I am often delighted, though not so surprised when people ask me what “Productivity” means. It gives me the opportunity to talk about the work we are doing every day across Citi, taking our execution to the next level, and delivering on our mission as an enabler of progress. It makes for a lively, engaging conversation on new enterprising ideas we should scale across our global organization.
I am most grateful for the relationships I’ve developed working with smart, passionate, globally-minded leaders. It’s one thing to deliver exceptional results responsibly. It’s another to deliver them with imagination and determination. These are important characteristics that I value as I think about how to find and create more opportunities for our future global leaders.
Why is productivity so critical to an organization?
Productivity’s goal is to tap into the strengths of our franchise and seek to continuously improve how our bank operates – for our clients, our shareholders, our communities, and for all our employees. This means helping the firm meet its financial targets by digitizing our core franchise processes, developing new capability-building tools to make better informed decisions, and creating new development opportunities for our best people.
At Know Your Value in Washington, D.C., you offered key tips for a successful interview. Can you highlight your top three?
- Show intellectual curiosity and ask insightful questions. We live in a world where practically anything can be “Googled,” so sometimes being able to answer a question is easier than knowing the right questions to ask. To differentiate candidates, I’m always looking for people who bring an inquisitive edge, an insatiable curiosity, and are also prepared to ask challenging questions – as much as I’m looking for leaders who are capable of chasing the right answers and solving tough problems.
- Be a safe investment. We have seen over recent years the extreme dangers of ethical lapses that affect not only individuals, but also teams and institutions. As a hiring manager, I have a long-term outlook on the people I invest in because my team reflects on me and my peers and my company as much as my actions reflect on them. We at Citi are all one team. Volatility might be desirable to some extent in our financial markets – but not in the hiring process. As an organization of nearly a quarter million people, we need to remember how we represent each other and our respective families. To that extent, I am looking to invest in people who have the right balance of quality growth and intelligent risk-taking.
- Focus on your potential. People are often too fixated on what they have achieved versus what they are capable of achieving. As someone who has been privileged and blessed to be given opportunities and challenges I never truly felt ready for, I encourage leaders to think less about being a perfect fit for any job, but instead demonstrate your appetite and willingness to adapt and learn on the job and tackle challenges you haven’t yet mastered. That is, after all, the way we grow.
The Know Your Value event is focused on actionable lessons for becoming your own best advocate, and women’s advocacy in particular. What advice do you have for increasing women representation at the senior level?
Whenever I hear a question like this, I immediately think about the advice I would give my daughter when she enters the work force. I would tell her to align herself with someone who is effective and understands that his or her achievement is reflective of hers; to always look for assignments that make her uncomfortable enough that she can develop and learn the skills for the next job; and finally, to focus on her potential and where she wants to be next year versus where she fits today.
At the same time, as my daughter has many more years to go until she starts a career, I think about the things I can do as an individual to pave the way. As someone who has seen his fair share of tough problems and turnaround challenges, I can tell you that this is a philosophical and tactical challenge that will require patience and a great deal of effort from everyone. First and foremost, this requires a commitment from all levels of an organization, particularly at the top, for meaningful change. I am encouraged by much of what we’re doing across the company – women represent 52% of our workforce, 24% of senior managers (C15+) and 25% of Manager Director promotions this year – and we have an opportunity to make even greater strides and set the benchmark for other financial institutions.
If I can be potentially provocative philosophically – we often focus too much on the diversity of the C-Suite, and not enough on the opportunities that lead to more female representation there. In fact, there are so few C-Suite positions for both genders to begin with; it is in our best interest to focus on actions to prepare women for the C-Suite before they hit what I call the “C-suite glass ceiling.” I think we are making progress – and can make even speedier progress as a company, if we continue focusing on where we can create opportunities for women that will be the stepping stones to the C-Suite in the coming years.