The following profile of Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann was written by Melissa J. Anderson as part of a series of executive profiles featured by The Glass Hammer, an award-winning blog and online-community designed for women executives in financial services, law and business. To check out all the resources and/or sign up for a free online newsletter subscription, please click here.
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“Helping others be the best they can be is a big motivator for me,” said Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, President of Citibank California.
She focuses on providing the best experience for the customers of Citibank, as well as supporting her team to ensure they have everything they need to win. She said, “Helping customers be financially successful and seeing the team succeed is very motivating. Nothing can make me happier – it’s why I come to work in the morning.”
According to Macieira-Kaufmann, her career has been driven by two things – her love of business and her love of travel. Speaking three languages and having lived in several countries, she said, “I’ve always loved business. I started four different companies – before college.”
“To sum it up, I’m a fourth generation San Franciscan with a global background.”
Interest in Working Abroad
Macieira-Kaufmann’s career grew out of her life-long love of running businesses. Having started her first licensed business, a jewelry company, when she was 13 years old (although she was quick to point out that she’d had other businesses previously, but this was the first time she had licensed one of them), Macieira-Kaufmann never left the business world.
Then upon attending Brown University she said, “I became very interested in international business.” She continued, “Through AIESEC [an international internship organization], I worked abroad during the summer for Renault in France and ITT in Finland.”
“When I graduated I wanted to work abroad – I couldn’t get it out of my system! It was suggested to me that I apply for a Fulbright scholarship – and I got one, and went to Finland for a year.”
Following her time in Finland, Macieira-Kaufmann attended Stanford Business School, working in Hong Kong during her summers.
“After business school I wanted to work abroad, and went to work for an international company in England for three years. Speaking three languages, English, French, and Finnish, I found success in international strategy work.”
“When I came back to the United States, I wanted to be in general management, running a business.” Having had lots of financial services clients, she said, “I moved into financial services product management.”
The Value of P&L Responsibility
Macieira-Kaufmann continued, “As a product manager, you have full P&L responsibility for a product. It’s really important to understand how to make money and understand the myriad aspects of the business. The only aspect of the business not dealt with is HR – and now I manage thousands of people, so I’ve had to learn about that piece, too.”
After returning to the United States her next job was at Providian Financial which is now part of J.P. Morgan Chase.
Next, she said, “I moved to Wells Fargo. They wanted me to come in and lead the marketing area of a nascent business – I came into the insurance side (I had been on the credit side). Next they asked me to partner in starting up the small business credit business. And every year or two, I took on more. And in 13 years, I became the head of small business – managing over a thousand people.”
She explained, “I needed to know the nuts and bolts to get through anything. My P&L experience helped.”
Her success at Wells Fargo brought up a new opportunity at Citi. “They asked me to come here and turn the business up in California. I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
She continued, “This is a very dynamic industry, and the issues we deal with every day affect jobs and small businesses. The big important area is job growth – it’s important that the economy continue to get healthier every year.”
Living a Whole Life
Macieira-Kaufmann urges women to have more confidence in their abilities. She said, “Believe in yourself – don’t underestimate yourself.”
And, she said, “It’s really important to do a great job at whatever you do. If your job requires you to do X, Y, and, Z, do a fantastic job of X, Y, and Z. Producing fantastic results means you’ll have more opportunities.”
For women looking to gain more leadership roles, she said, “Let people know. Volunteer to take on extra projects. Show you have the capacity to grow.”
And, she said, be open to learning at all times. “I learn the most from my team. I spend time with fantastically inspirational folks – I’m out with them all the time, and they inspire me greatly. Einstein inspires me greatly. Phenomenal people give me lots of inspiration.”
She continued, “As for mentors, I look to the team at my prior company and to the team at Citi. I accept help from everybody. And I probably teach them things, too.”
And she noted the importance of living a full life. “I think this is true for males or females, but for work/life balance, go for your whole life,” she said. “You’re never going to be in perfect balance. The key is to have a whole life – there are times when you may need to provide for a family, and there are times when you may focus on your home life.”
In addition to her involvement with the Financial Women’s Association as well as alumni groups from the schools she attended, she said, “I love traveling. I’m very involved in the community. I live a whole life.”
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Melissa Anderson is a writer, editor, and social media expert for The Glass Hammer. She is interested in how engaging in networked communities can foster workplace gender equality, good corporate citizenship, and individual workplace satisfaction, all of which improve a company’s bottom line. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and worked as a copywriter for several years before moving to New York City. She recently completed her Master’s degree at NYU in Media, Culture, and Communication with a focus on technology and society. Anderson currently lives in Brooklyn, and in her spare time she enjoys traveling, the outdoors, crafting, and learning new trivia.