The Importance of Difference Makers
Darlene is a commercially-minded, financial market-savvy executive who drives profits via top-line growth. Intimate understanding of clients’ operations; significant experience working with capital markets, equity sales, trading, research, and investors, partnering to position hundreds of companies for IPO.
She is a clear, strategic thinker who builds sustained client relationships, designs effective sales organizations, and improves operating margins by restructuring and managing direct and fixed costs.
Darlene has hands-on functional experience in sales management, product marketing, business integration, and manufacturing and a broad sector industry exposure including financial services, technology, health care, business services, and industrials.
Lauren: Without further ado, I would like to introduce Darlene Pasquill. She is the head of the equity division at Mizuho, and Mizuho, for anyone who’s not familiar, is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. And Mizuho is really focused on transitioning to that next generation of financial services, so, building a new type of partnership with customers so they can respond to their needs as times change, and times have surely changed right now.
Darlene is commercially minded, financial-market-savvy, and she focuses on driving profits via top-line growth. She spent her career building deep expertise, not just at Mizuho but at Credit Suisse, DLJ – Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette – which is a blast from the past for me. And, as a leader, Darlene leans into the form – really leans in to form a deep understanding of clients’ operations, and she’s partnered to position hundreds of companies for IPO.
So I – when I was reading her background I thought she’s a renaissance executive. She’s got broad experience across sales management, product marketing, business integration, and pretty much across every sector you can imagine. So please join me in welcoming Darlene to the virtual stage to share her unique perspective on being a modern revenue leader.
Darlene: Thank you, Lauren, and thank you, Kelvin. I’m honoured to be here with a great panel of fellow panelists.
So, similar to Sandra I take a lot of notes and I’ve gotten a lot of great tips here, so I thank everybody.
So, who am I? Lauren, you did a great job given my background but I would highlight that while I’m currently running the equity division of Mizuho, it is a big global bank, but it’s super entrepreneurial as I think about the role that I’m in now. To grow I’ve had to add lots of hires this year on the revenue producer side, and also add a lot of new products. So it’s been super fun.
You mentioned I have worked at billion-plus. I ran an equity division for a billion-plus, another financial services institutions, but also I’ve worked in industrial sales, at [unintelligible 00:02:00] fiberglass, where I was selling to auto and marine manufacturers. I also had the privilege after the business school of working in medical device sales, selling to hospitals and doctors. So I’ve had a lot of sales successes along the way and grew up in my career in sales and sales management, and also account relationship management.
I grew up in a small town not far from Cape Cod. Importantly my family’s in the commercial fishing industry, far away from sales and sales management, but I would highlight that most of my life I’ve thought about, you know, Sandra mentioned some great books for us to read, which I will read. I’ve thought about, you know, great self-help books, reading Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking over and over and over. And I’ve read Tony Robbins early on in my – when I was in my teens. So importantly I’m a big believer in self-help and learning from others. I want to thank you for having me.
So in 2020 we did achieve record revenue growth. As I mentioned, I’ve hired – I think I hired 27 people remotely, and it’s hard to get people remotely when you think about trying to make sure they’re fitting in with your culture. And also expanded our product offering—right?—to grow the revenue.
So, as I think about how to really get exponential revenue growth, we’re – I’m looking at the lens of financial services; that means selling, you know, long-term client relationships, similar to what Sandra does, and it also is about how do you sell to institutions top, you know, bottoms up, and also tops down.
So as I think about it there’s two key factors I think about every day. One is the need to hire difference makers, right? So, for me to be successful in a super-competitive environment, as I’m in, you know, I’m competing with many earlier established institutions every day, I need to hire difference makers. And I heard from Kim mention, you know, you need people with a growth mind-set. I need people who have a growth mindset and like to change. I need people who are positive thinkers. I start with who’s passionate about clients; that is the most important thing I need. Are you passionate about clients? Are you a positive thinker? Do you own the performance? Now, I say this a lot. Like, you need to own it. You know, it’s not that you can’t blame anything on the institution or anybody else; you have to own your success or not.
And I also think a lot about are you enthusiastic or not? Because, you know, people do business with who they trust and like. And, you know, Sandra mentioned storytelling to be able to establish rapport without bragging about yourself. It is really important that you hire the right person.
So for me it all starts with hiring difference makers, and as I think about hiring 27 people remotely—right?—I was doing lots of Zoom meetings. I did meet a couple of people with masks on in the city; I am in New York City. I have been in the office in and out but I do have most of the team – 90% of the people are still working from home.
So number one, to really grow revenues you need definitely to hire only difference makers, that own their success, that are passionate about clients and that are enthusiastic.
And then the second thing I think about is, you know, I need to make sure all those on the team have the energy and drive to be able to prepare to win. And when I say that I mean, you know, I need them to be humble and to ask others for advice. You know, similar to me, you know, I like to take notes and I’ll go back to my notes and think about, you know what are the best practices I learned from others? How can I do that differently or do more? And I only try to hire talent that able prepare, and I tell people every day, you need to earn the business. It doesn’t come just by showing up; you need to earn it, and to earn it you need to prepare.
If you help the clients do better and help them make money, they will do business with you. So I asked our teams and sales to know the org charts, know the organization top to bottom, bottom to top, and also to make sure that they are solutions-oriented: they know what the best is about us and what we have to offer and match that up with what the client’s needs are. And as you know, 101 of sales is listening every day and being able to put that together.
So, being – hiring only difference makers, and also making sure people earn the business and prepare: that’s critically important to me as I think about hiring and competing in a super, super-competitive industry.
And also being super entrepreneurial. I tell everybody when I hire them, listen, I only want positive thinkers who are super entrepreneurial, who want to grow with us.
And I’m proud of the way we have adapted this year to the hybrid remote working. How did we do it? And I think I’ve heard some other people talk about ways that they have people connect. It’s all about how do you engage people and how do you connect them? So I would say it starts with the caring for employees and the empathy that Lauren brought up earlier. So I think that we have got – aired on the side of extreme flexibility for employees, many who are, you know, struggling with, you know, work from home, with children at home, some had health issues, lack of daycare, educating your kids at home. So we have erred on the side of being extremely flexible.
To try to address it we did do a lot of remote video presentations. We, similar to what I heard on this webcast, have done wellness speakers around sleep, around nutrition, around career. So it’s about investing in the employees. It’s about – we did something called operation connect where we asked employees, and I still remind them, to call five people during the week that they haven’t spoken to. We’ve been in remote in this environment for 14, 15 months. So how do you think about calling five people you haven’t talked to? Because time goes by so fast, and people are super busy.
So, you know, investing in the employees, wellness speakers, operation connect.
And then the things that I’ve done from a divisional standpoint is, you know, we start out the day at 7:15 or 7:20 with a video, you know, a Zoom meeting with all of the employees in the division. I like them to see me, even if I’m not talking. It’s important that they see me and that you can get a sense for who’s engaged and who’s not as well. So, we do that. I do do, even running the division, I do sales meetings three times a week where I can hear – we go around the horn, and I have sales people say what’s working, what’s not working, what they need, so I can actually hear what’s happening in the field. And then you hear who you hear from and who you don’t, so you can get a sense for who is really engaged or not.
I also think it’s important – we’ve done, similar to others, Zoom meetings. I’ve done Zoom wine tasting. So Sandra I think talked about – I’m going to take her tip about the tea specialist. We did – I’ve done – I can’t tell you how many wine tastings with the person who is a wine connoisseur. I’ve done it both with clients, but also internally, right? I’ve hired so many new people; they don’t know other people. And to really know your organization, you need to know the other people. So I’ve done wine tastings with all the new employees many times. I’ve done wine tastings with clients.
And then the other thing that I’m probably most proud of, you know, we’ve done town halls. So I do a town hall on the division every month. Our CEO does town halls every two weeks. But I also would say the thing I’m most proud of is I established something I called leadership series of speakers. So I had Jim Craig who was the 1980 Olympic goalie; he’s a personal friend. I had him speak about what it takes to be successful. Anything I can do to motivate the teams who’ve been sitting at home, and this – it’s been challenging.
And then I also had Kelly Amonte Hiller, who is the northwestern women’s lacrosse team. She won seven championships; she’s in contention again this year. I had her speak and others. So I think about a leadership series to motivate people and bring everybody together.
And then lastly I am making one-on-one calls. So I will do, you know, not scheduled spontaneous calls to sales or traders or anyone across the division, so they know I’m thinking about them. And I think someone brought it up earlier. I work for the people; they don’t work for me. I have to hire talent. Talent has so many other opportunities right now. And if you’re in a remote environment, you never know where your people could be doing or spending their time. And if they don’t feel like you’re focused on them I think it’s more challenging and you could risk losing employees and having turnover. It’s such a tough time to attract talent, that’s the last thing you want.
So that’s my thoughts on how we’ve adapted. Thank you again. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from others today.
Note: The following text is transcribed from the event audio. It’s largely accurate, but in some cases it may be a bit off due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It’s intended as an aid to understanding the event, but it shouldn’t be treated as an authoritative record.