Interview with Noreen Doyle, Credit Suisse Board Member
DB: As a child or as a student, did you aspire to the high position you have today?
ND: I think I was always achievement-oriented—I worked hard for good grades in grammar school and high school. I attended a women’s Catholic college, Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York, and ran for the president of the student council. My interest in business began at a relatively young age working at a small NYSE stockbroker during my college summers. Following college, I was encouraged to apply to The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Mount Saint Vincent and Tuck provided me with both an excellent education and a group of lifelong friends.
DB: Has your path to becoming an executive been tougher because you’re a woman? ND: It is hard for me to judge because it’s the only path I know. But in my experience, particularly at Bankers Trust in the seventies and eighties, men were given more stretching opportunities whereas women were kept in the positions they were doing well in. Men—there were only men in management at the time—were less willing to take risks on promoting women.
DB: Have there been unexpected benefits? Explain.ND: In my very junior days, I was one of the few women pitching for a New York bank in Texas. Maybe it gave me an edge, because I certainly would be remembered more readily than the men in gray suits from Chemical, Manufacturers Hanover, Chase, or Morgan!
DB: What are the two or three big lessons that you have learned in the working world along this path?ND: The biggest lesson is that there comes a point in your career when you have to take ownership of your opportunities and direction. I think women of my generation were socialized to believe that doing one’s job well would result in reward and promotion. In a big organization, this is not altogether true. The management needs to know about you! And they will only know it if you self-promote. Women need to do more of this, particularly in a large corporate bureaucracy.
DB: Is there an unexpected challenge you’ve faced along the way?ND: In any career there are disappointments. The biggest challenge is not to let them drag you down, but to continue to do the job well and keep focused on the next objective or achievement.
DB: Is it overwhelming or exhilarating—or both—to have the global responsibilities which you do?ND: I have been on the Credit Suisse board since 2004. Without a doubt, it has always been interesting, and sometimes quite challenging. I have served on both the Audit and the Risk committees, and am proud of the job that management did throughout the 2008 crisis. We are one of the few major firms that did not require funds from any government to get through those difficult times.
DB: Why/how does Credit Suisse feel like a good fit for you?ND: I spent more than thirty years working in the banking industry, so it’s a business I enjoy. Credit Suisse is a first-class firm with first-class employees dedicated to the firm but with a broader perspective on life. CEO Brady Dougan is one of the best in the business and it is a pleasure to work with him and his management team. They are clearly doing the right things to adjust to the “new normal” which we face in this industry. My one disappointment is that we have not done as well in retaining and promoting senior women. It is a key issue for me, and Brady knows it. It is a great disappointment to me that after decades of “equality” at entry level, we have so few women in senior positions across the financial industry.
DB: What is your favorite part of the job?ND: The best part of my current role—as a director of several public companies—is the chance to think strategically across several industries, but in particular in the financial service business. We are fortunate to work with very intelligent people and have seen tremendous innovation in our markets. The past is not a predictor of the future and we will need to be ready for the challenges ahead.