Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) Women Clients Network is testimony to the fact the most successful initiatives often grow organically. The networking forum which holds its annual in-person get together this October draws around 80 women in finance from across industries and at every stage of their career.
It’s a far cry from its origins, an informal get together back in 2015 when a handful of women met in a side gathering at the Association for Financial Professional (AFP) conference. “It’s come to be one of the most popular events we hold, and a lot of people look forward to it,” enthuses Candace Wenzel, Director, e-Commerce Global Solution Sales in Citi’s Seattle office who co-leads TTS’ Women Client Network along with Mara Seltzer, Solution Sales Director in TTS’ industrial segment. The Network’s programming includes three virtual meetings a year as well as October’s in-person gathering that will run alongside the AFP.
It is also testimony to the enduring demand for networking opportunities for women working across treasury, finance, and payments functions, seeking to learn and share from each other’s experiences. Fireside chats and discussion groups cover subjects like mentoring, allyship and leadership, and how to grow your brand as well as treasury’s role as a valued business partner. This year speakers include Citi’s Andrea Martin-Summers, SVP & Global Account Management Team Leader; Trainer, & Mentor who also doubles as an award-winning life purpose and destiny coach, renowned for her inspiring perspective on personal branding. “We think our clients are going to love it,” says Wenzel.
Rather than listening to panel sessions, the overriding aim of Citi’s TTS Women Clients Network is to get women talking and creating a community. This year the organisers are hoping to replicate the energy and purpose of last year’s in-person event held in the Four Seasons in Philadelphia where speakers included two female executives at the hotel group sharing their career journeys alongside TTS’ Global Co-Head of Payments and Receivables. “We try to make sure everyone walks away with a bit of knowledge they can apply,” says Wenzel.
The event seeks to attract women at every stage of their career from treasurer down to those just starting, in the belief that everyone can learn from each other. It’s a reflection of Citi’s TTS team’s own culture of reverse mentoring where more experienced team members know they have as much to learn from those at the beginning of their career journey as they can offer via mentorship themselves. “I mentor a lot and I learn as much from my mentees as I hope they learn from me,” says Wenzel who has seen first-hand how mentorship promotes empowerment, inclusion and translates into good treasury. “I’ve bought projects I’m working on to my mentees for their opinion and perspective. It’s important to learn how someone earlier in their career thinks differently.”
It leads her to reflect how the type of networking the Women Clients Network seeks to engender is also pervasive in Citi’s TTS. Interns and analysts are encouraged to seek out informal chats with more senior colleagues to encourage talent and career progression. Similarly, the network also seeks to highlight the culture of opportunity in treasury where young people are engaged, tasked with interesting assignments and working with clients – another tenet of TTS at Citi.
Perhaps above all, Wenzel hopes the networking forum helps support women in treasury and finance be more assertive, take charge and take risks to progress their careers. It is in this aspect she says networking can support women who are reluctant to step out of their comfort zone and take on stretch assignments. “Women often feel they must be a perfect fit for a new role but they need to take risks and communicate their career aspirations so managers can keep it in mind. We want to make sure people feel really engaged in all aspects of the job.”
The network also offers active support for women in treasury and finance where DEI remains vulnerable to women feeling they must choose between a family and career. Reflecting on her own experience, Wenzel says that treasury’s small teams and long tenures offer more flexibility for women to return to work after time off than other corners of finance. “We know that diversity creates stronger and better outcomes, but women still face challenges in the workforce.” Stretch assignments and leadership roles in the emerging trends in the sector like digitisation and ESG perhaps? “Women are good at breaking down barriers and being super collaborative. These evolving trends are an opportunity for women to excel,” she concludes.
The network hosts three virtual events through the course of the year and one in-person gathering, scheduled this October 24th at the annual AFP conference to be held in San Diego, California.