Executive Speaker Series

Citigroup CEO talks team building, leading with empathy

Jane Fraser is the first woman ever to lead a major U.S. finance institution.

Citigroup CEO talks team building, leading with empathy

COVID-19 impacts have been largely negative, but Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser found something during the global pandemic worth holding on to: the courage to practice a new style of leadership without compromising on excellence.


Fraser was the most recent guest during Aramco’s Executive Speaker Series program.


During the pandemic, Fraser could see the fatigue employees were experiencing as a result of work spilling into their personal time. To combat the fatigue, she implemented a cultural shift, banning video calls on Fridays, encouraging employees to set healthy boundaries, and allowing for hybrid and flexible schedules.


Seeking competitive advantage

The first female chief executive of Citi and first woman to lead a major financial institution in the U.S., she knows how hard it is to build a diverse team.


She noted that as women advance in the business world, they are often isolated. Fraser said women must be onboarded fairly, and that hiring companies must be careful not to miss out on opportunities or be unaware of their unconscious bias and how it affects their judgment. 


With diversity, you can enjoy different styles and ways of thinking. It helps you get rid of the blind spots, or at least to keep working at them.
— Jane Fraser


When asked about what legacy she would like to leave at Citi, Fraser said it would be modernizing the company successfully. 


“Digitalization is changing many industries,” she said, and she wants to use those developments to continue making the 200-year-old institution relevant and adaptive. 

The Executive Speaker Series program

The Executive Speaker Series program consists of monthly sessions focused on emerging corporate topics such as sustainability, innovation, digital transformation, and more. Speakers include world-class thought leaders and experts from a number of global business partners such as the Harvard Business School, the London Business School and Wharton. 


The first speaker to launch the series was Professor Lynda Gratton from the London Business School, who shared her experience and perspective on “The Future of Work.” Gratton is currently a professor of Management Practice at the London Business School where she directs the world’s leading program on human resources, “Human Resource Strategy in Transforming Companies.”  


Gratton discussed how demography, technology, globalization, society, and energy resources continuously reshape the way we work. She noted that more than one-third of all jobs across all industries are expected to require complex problem solving as one of their core skills. 


Social skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence, and teaching others will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control. 


Upskilling for success

For health-care practitioners, technological innovations will allow for increasing automation of diagnosis and personalization of treatments, redefining many medical roles toward translating and communicating this data effectively to patients. 


Similarly, sales and related jobs may see an increased demand for creative skills and ideas for promoting a memorable shopping experience. 


Among all jobs requiring physical abilities, less than one-third are expected to have a growing demand in the future. The skills family with the most stable demand across all jobs requiring these skills today or in the future, are technical skills, as 44% of all jobs requiring these skills today will have a stable need for them in the coming years. 


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