Sep 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

How Citi's new CEO managed her work/life balance

Jane Fraser
Jane Fraser, who was named CEO of Citigroup on Thursday. REUTERS/Erin Scott

The first female big-bank CEO in U.S. history is a Scot who has triumphed in the world's most competitive arenas — Goldman Sachs, Harvard Business School, McKinsey, and now Citigroup, where she will become CEO in February.

The job that Jane Fraser says challenged her the most is among the most common in the world: Mom.

In her own words: "Being a mother of young children and having a career is the toughest thing I have ever had to do," she told an internal McKinsey interviewer after she left the consulting firm. 

  • Fraser talked of being "exhausted" and "guilty" despite being "blessed with a great partner in my husband who shares the responsibilities fully" — even though she officially worked only part-time while raising small children.
  • Fraser's husband, Alberto Piedra, quit his job as head of global banking at European bank Dresdner Kleinwort in order to support her career.

Driving the news: Fraser, currently CEO of global consumer banking at Citi, will succeed Michael Corbat as CEO of Citigroup in February.

  • She will be the first female CEO of a U.S. megabank.
  • Given that being on the "mommy track" used to disqualify women from such high office, her ascent and accomplishments are particularly noteworthy.

Between the lines: Fraser's mentor, Lowell Bryan, explained to the Financial Times what "part time" meant at McKinsey: When staying with Fraser and her husband, he would find her working on her computer in the kitchen at 3 a.m.

  • Working part-time at McKinsey was "tough," Fraser told CNN. ""You're seeing people who you've managed and you’ve brought into the firm then progressing faster than you."

The big picture: Fraser epitomizes a work-life balance problem that's present at the top levels of any industry — and one that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Working mothers routinely juggle responsibilities and are — either directly or indirectly — punished for it at work.

The bottom line: "You cannot have it all," said Fraser in 2012. "Many things have had to give, personally and professionally."

Go deeper: Citi's Jane Fraser to become first female CEO of major bank

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information.

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