Former CEO of Citi Foundation, now retired

Smith Major

Career Path
Flaherty earned a master’s in international affairs from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and then began her career at Citibank’s international group. She credits her success in part to working for men who cared more about talent than gender (particularly John Reed, who went on to become the CEO of Citigroup and whom she regards as a sponsor for her own career). She managed Citibank’s New York branch banking business and served as Citicorp’s senior human resources officer. In 2007, she was tapped to become president and CEO of Citi Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, where she remained until her retirement in February.

Advice for young women aiming for the C-suite
“First, get a great education at a place like Smith; that will prepare you for so much. Pick an industry and master it; learn everything about it. If you want to be in the bond business—well, that’s less welcoming for women, so to deal with it, you have to understand it. The women who are most successful in, say, a trading environment are women who get along with the boys. They fit in, go with the flow. They are not people who are anxious about being excluded; they just push their way in. The best way is to prove yourself, be a colleague and be part of the team. Learn public speaking. It’s an essential skill at almost every level because you have to bring people along to your ideas, programs and initiatives. And find a sponsor, someone who will champion you and make sure you get the great assignments that help you advance.”

SAQ, Fall 2015