HYDERABAD: From starting her career in college with a part time job at a call centre earning $5.50 per hour in 1980 to becoming the president and CEO of Synchrony Financial, a US-based consumer financial services company in 2014, Margaret Keane has been crackling all the way. In fact, Keane is one of only two women who leads an independently traded US bank whose value is over $10 billion.
While it might not be uncommon for women to be part of the upper echelons of the corporate world, their numbers up there might not sound convincing. According to a research, women hold more than half of the jobs in financial services but account for just 12.4 percent of executive-level positions. So what makes Keane so unique and successful? This woman could see herself in the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list, grabbing the 33rd position. She was in Hyderabad recently to expand her company’s off-shore operations.
Sharing on how education was a top priority in her life, she said he hails from a large family where she had the shoulders of her two brothers but yet her spine was her dad, who encouraged and motivated her unconditionally. “I am lucky to have a dad who never said no to me. He always gave me a thumbs up to do do what I am best at. I come a blue collar family, so I educated myself. I had a zeal to make my parents proud and above all, enrich myself with immense knowledge,” she shared with pride.
It was not so hunky dory for Margaret to climb the corporate ladder, but it was not too harsh either because she had a vision, will and diligence. “ I had joined as the management trainee program at Citibank after I graduated, partly because they would pay for me to get my MBA. I loved what I would though it was tough. But it was time consuming at the same time. I had two kids, who were young and wanted my attention. That was the time, I had to take the right decision that would balance both my personal and professional life. Later I opted for a less stressful job for my kids and husband. A Vice Chairman from GE played a big role in mentoring me. Then, there has been no looking back,” she beams.
Did she face hardships to go on to the top in the man’s world?
“I was always treated on par with any man. There was a instance when I was sitting behind my chairman in a board meeting. He had asked me to come forward and sit next to him. He instructed me to always be on the fore and never behind,”
“I never play a women card. I always keep myself updated with sports, news and all the current affair so I that I don’t feel left out. I know what men talk and for them, and hence I listen to some sports news and affairs. I take part in their conversations.
When we wanted to have a glimpse into a day of the woman, who is into Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, Margaret, she says, “I work out and stay calm. My time is spent in board meeting, visiting sites across the world to understand the business. My free time is for my family. We go out on vacations together. Christmas is something I always look forward for. We all gather and make the best of the time,” she narrated.
Her success mantra is simple and evidently effective. “Work hard and love it. Love what you do. We will not feel the pain of hard work, if we work with ample amount of passion and zeal,” she concludes.