‘Lean In and Always Take a Seat at the Table’ — My Top Advice From 20 Years in the Banking Industry

Sponsored by Santander US

Monica Malone. Photo courtesy of Santander.

Monica Malone. Photo courtesy of Santander.

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In her over 20 years in the banking industry, Monica Malone has gained experience spanning everything from finance and operations to trading, private banking, and financial institutions group (FIG) coverage. And, during the past eight years, Malone has continued to grow her skills with Santander, where she currently acts as the Head of Financial Institutions Coverage, Santander Corporate & Investment Banking — US & Canada.

With such a wealth of experience in this field, we asked Malone what advice she’s followed to grow such a successful career as a leader in banking. Her response? “Lean in and always take a seat at the table,” Malone shares. “There aren’t enough of us! Finding a trusted voice to ask tough questions or for advice is also important. I have several men and women at various levels within the industry that have helped me by providing advice or a thoughtful ear, or by acting as an internal sponsor.”

Here, Malone gives us an inside look into her role, her best leadership advice, and how she supports her team. Read on to learn more!

Exploring my leadership role in the banking industry.

What does it look like to be a leader in the banking industry? For Malone, this experience provides the chance to guide innovative work. 

As a leader in the Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (SCIB) area, “I’ve had the opportunity to build a team of coverage bankers that work to consistently increase the global share of wallet, collaboration, and cross product/geography connectivity with the major U.S. financial companies,” Malone explains. “We have also expanded our traditional client base to include fintechs, which has been an exciting new frontier.”

This innovative work is made possible thanks to the dedication of Malone and her passionate team. “I was surprised at how dedicated people can be when we are aligned around building something together,” she says. Malone also tells us how her team’s innovative work and excellent performance are constantly supported by Santander. This “has helped me raise my own profile and that of my team within the organization and across the market,” says Malone. As a result, Malone emphasizes how exciting the past few years have been for the SCIB team.

Of course, another key element of Malone’s role is supporting and elevating her talented team. On a daily basis “I spend time coaching and collaborating with the members of my team and representing our team’s brand and accomplishments internally and externally at events or committees,” she says. “I take my role as a team leader very seriously, both in achieving the goals that our team sets forth, as well as supporting, coaching, and challenging my team members to develop.”

This dedication aligns with Malone’s leadership style of being approachable and always focusing on people first. “It is important to demonstrate trust and confidence in our teams while staying very connected to each person,” she notes. This includes not micromanaging team members, letting other people make decisions in order to learn, and encouraging everyone to grow both as individuals and as team members.

Reflecting back on her six years leading her current team, Malone tells us that she’s “built incredibly strong relationships with my team members that I will carry throughout my career and life.”

For more tips on how you can build strong relationships with your direct reports, all while supporting them like Malone has, read on!

Top 3 tips on how to be a supportive team leader.

  1. Try to understand what motivates the people on your team and celebrate their successes. “The banking industry is fast-paced and can be stressful,” shares Malone, “so, it is important to take a moment and reflect on both accomplishments and opportunities. People need to feel valued and supported because we ask for significant contributions and dedication.”

  2. Take an interest in both the professional development and personal lives of your direct reports. “We spend so much time at work that I find it’s a more enjoyable environment when we all know a bit about one another’s interests outside of the office,” Malone explains. “The work environment has changed significantly since I began my career, and I try to stay current on expecting the best while respecting and valuing everyone’s work-life balance.”

  3. Foster an environment where your team feels empowered while also knowing that they can rely on their manager and fellow team members whenever they need support. “It’s important for people to feel that they have a supportive person and a sponsor within the organization,” says Malone. “When I was promoted, my manager told me to put his cell phone number into my contacts and to call him if I needed help or advice. I have used that number only a few times. Every time I call, he answers.”

Want to join the supportive people like Malone that work at Santander? Click the link below to browse current job opportunities.

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