Diversity Woman Magazine

SUM 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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34 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S u m m e r 2 0 1 9 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Peters Carey returned to Wharton and earned an MBA in 2015, then accepted a strategic financial job with American Ex- press in New York City. Much of her focus was on analysis and communications, particularly with the investor relations com- munity, helping to convey the bank's financial performance. She had forged her path in New York, totally indepen- dent of the family business. But something was missing. "I enjoyed that role, [but] I found that I wasn't very fulfilled," Peters Carey says. "I felt like I had no purpose." Once her father began to talk to his children about creating a succes- sion plan, she came to the realization there were a lot more opportunities to build upon a range of businesses that had grown over 30 years with a solid foundation in the commu- nity and where she could use her business management skill set to make a real impact. With a newfound purpose, she returned to the place where it all began. Peters Carey, who is Indian American, says that her ethnic background hasn't directly influenced her leadership style but indirectly, as it is part of her identity. She grew up watch- ing and learning how her father operated in a historically white male society—which is a challenge for any woman to navigate. Dr. Peters left Kerala, India, and completed his training as a physician in London and Pittsburgh, Pennsyl- vania and at Wake Forest University before establishing a medical practice and settling in High Point, North Carolina, to raise a family. He entered the financial services arena in the early 1990s during the savings and loan crisis, forming the Bank of North Carolina and chairing its loan committee. Comparatively speaking, Peters Carey is a bit more data- centric and focused on the operational details, whereas her father is a big picture visionary who operates with instinct in how he deals with people and opportunities. She notes that this mix of leadership styles works well—in effect, between the two they have all the bases covered. "I think in any orga- nization you need to look at your strengths and weaknesses, and try to optimize that [knowledge]," she says. Peters Carey's Ivy League education and corporate training were critical in sharpening her strategic and critical thinking skills. "e difference between a corporate culture and a founder- driven entrepreneurial culture is the pace of decision-making," she explains. "In some of my past roles, being good at your job was about being able to reach out to many different de- partments and get buy-in for your idea to move it forward. Here, you need to provide a larger vision and get buy-in from your team to achieve those goals." Succession planning is a key component of C-suite replace- ment, and the Peters family has taken a structured approach in preparing Peters Carey to assume the CEO role. is included hiring a New York succession management firm and a group of lawyers and accountants to implement short- term and long-term procedures. ey also interviewed other family-owned enterprises where the founder handed over the reins to a son or daughter. e succession plan calls for Dr. Peters to transition Peters Carey over a period of time. He's already begun to shift certain responsibilities. To train her, for two years he took a step back from the banking world after the acquisition of the Bank of North Carolina by Pinnacle Financial Partners, based in Nashville, for $2 billion in 2017. He has provided tutelage to his daughter on the inner workings of the organi- zation and has served as a guide. Peters Carey says she has learned a great deal from her father and tries to soak up all the knowledge she can from him. For example, she employed an out-of-the-ordinary tactic her first year at the company: she put her desk in her father's office—right next to his. She listened to his phone conversations, watched the people who came to see him, and sat in on his meetings. She now has her own separate office. Peters Carey is passionate about women's leadership development. Although not every woman seeking to move into the C-suite will be able to put a desk in the boss's office, she can position herself for leadership positions through mentoring, development, and stretch assignments, she says. No matter your current seat in the company, "be proac- tive," she says. "Do a self-assessment of your skill set and fill in any gaps. Discuss this with your boss, with the people in the company you respect. Make sure that you're an avid communicator and create opportunities to be seen and to be heard, because your male colleagues will be doing that. You don't have to be pushy or elbow others, but look for oppor- tunities to give your opinion or take on a project that you think would give you the most visibility." "Make e that y e an avid com- to be seen and d, because y male colleagues will be doing that ... look f to give y take on a oject that you think would give you the most visibility." BO RN to LEAD

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