Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury Spotlight: Caroline Wharton, Wells Fargo Bank N.A.

Published: Oct 2020

Director, Technology, Media & Telecom, Corporate Investment Banking at Wells Fargo Bank N.A. With over two decades in the banking sector, Caroline Wharton talks about the experience of working from home, the importance of networking and the advantages of retaining a spirit of curiosity.

Caroline Wharton

Director, Technology, Media & Telecom, Corporate Investment Banking,Wells Fargo Bank N.A.

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How did you get to your current position?

I’ve been in banking over 20 years. I joined Wells Fargo 13 years ago and established their global team in Dublin, focusing on European corporates with US operations. About six years ago I came to the US and had the opportunity to join their Technology, Media & Telecom, Corporate Investment Banking division.

What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?

Without a doubt it is COVID-19, and how it impacts not only our business but our team members and clients as well. But compared to other sectors, I would say that TMT (Technology, Media & Telecom) is faring very well, especially IT services.

When I left the office I thought that I would see everybody in two to three weeks. Working from home can be hard in a small apartment not designed for the purpose – and we all miss the contact with clients. It’s hard to build new relationships and grow your business when you don’t have the opportunity to network, build rapport and have that face-to-face meeting. But we are all adapting.

What has been your experience of diversity in the workplace? How much progress have you seen during your career?

So much has changed and we have moved a long way. At Wells Fargo we ensure that when we go to campuses, we recruit a diverse intake of graduates. But I would say that in companies in both Europe and the US, the number of women getting to senior levels is still not as high as it should be, and people of diverse ethnicities are not progressing as far as they should. It’s on all of us and our companies to be proactive in addressing this.

In terms of establishing and developing a career, what advice would you give to women in finance?

Take ownership of your career. Junior people tend to think that if they keep their heads down and work really hard, they will get rewarded. But you need to plan your development consciously – talk to your manager and cultivate mentors and sponsors. Work out what your aspirations are and then get feedback about the skills that you need to develop.

It’s so important to build and maintain your network and connections. And when you move to a different team, don’t burn your bridges. A former manager could become a great sponsor.

I would also say that progression is rarely linear. When someone starts out in their career, they tend to see it as a ladder. But there can be great opportunities for learning and development by moving sideways into different roles, gaining knowledge and broadening skills.

What is your motto in life or your greatest inspiration?

I think my motto would have to be ‘every day is a school day’. Finish your day a tiny bit more knowledgeable than you started it, and always be curious. This doesn’t just mean gaining technical knowledge – it’s important to take all opportunities to gain knowledge. The US is a huge country but during our time here my husband and I have tried to visit every state. We are up to 48, and it would have been 50 if COVID-19 had not intervened. These trips have enabled us to see the US from many perspectives.

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