Business Monday

Her global challenge: Developing the next generation of women leaders

Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub is managing director at Merrill Lynch and is also the global president of the International Women's Forum. In addition she has had a long career as an industry, community and philanthropic leader.
Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub is managing director at Merrill Lynch and is also the global president of the International Women's Forum. In addition she has had a long career as an industry, community and philanthropic leader. emichot@miamiherald.com

Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub doesn’t shy away from a challenge, particularly when it’s helping to develop the next generation of female leaders.

Early last year, at about the same time the wealth management executive moved to Merrill Lynch as managing director after nearly two decades running Fiduciary Trust International of the South, Weintraub became global president of the International Women’s Forum.

The International Women’s Forum was founded in 1974 in New York to unite women of diverse accomplishments and build a network of influence, power and friendship that could change the face of leadership, Weintraub said. Since then the IWF has grown to 76 forums, including one in Miami, in 35 countries. Weintraub will be global president through September 2018, when the global conference will be held in Miami. She led the Florida IWF from 2007 to 2009.

Among many programs, the organization offers a one-year fellowship program where burgeoning leaders work with select high-potential leaders. Among fellows from Miami have been current Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Foundation executive Charisse Grant, entrepreneurship champion Susan Amat and architect MariCarmen Martinez.

The organization is now working with the United Nations on a women’s leadership program. “It’s about where we can add value, where we can make a difference,” Weintraub said.

Another aspect of being global president is making sure the local forums remain strong. Membership is by invitation only. The forums bring together the premier women in their industries and community, Weintraub said. Current members include community activist Ruth Shack, historian Arva Parks and former University of Miami president Donna Shalala.

“I’ve observed, taught, and worked with the world’s best leaders for decades and, as an IWF member, have advocated for women in leadership,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor and a founder of IWF Massachusetts. “Teresa Weintraub is characterized by empathy, kindness, incredible strength, and the willingness to roll up her sleeves to do the work. In every situation, from parent at her kids’ school to the financial world, she has risen to leadership by being smart and being present. Women should never underestimate the power of plunging in and volunteering to lead.”

Weintraub, born in Havana, has been a leader in the community as well as the wealth management industry, participating in or leading various philanthropic endeavors in planned giving, education, healthcare and the arts.

“I take great pride in Miami and try to help wherever I can,” said Weintraub, who volunteered at migrant camps as a teenager. “However, it is important not to be too scattered or desultory in the causes you support. For this reason, I have stepped down from some organizations to focus on empowering the next generation of leaders.”

The Miami Herald talked with Weintraub about the International Women’s Forum, her own career changes and influences in her life as a leader in the industry and in philanthropic endeavors.

Q. Why is involvement in the International Women’s Forum important to you and what is your role as global president?

A. Both locally and globally, IWF promotes opportunities for women and advances leadership for economies, societies and individuals. My involvement is important to me because it has introduced me to women leaders from around the world representing many different cultures, races and backgrounds. These women are changing their communities and countries. I have made friends around the world, and it has truly made me into an international citizen. As IWF global president, I am assisting the various forums with best practices to reach and develop the next generation of women leaders and help them make a difference in their communities.

Q. You have led the local IWF as well. How is leading on the global level different?

A. I was president of IWF Florida from 2007-2009. Our forum’s membership criteria is the same as that of other forums. We seek to invite top women leaders of diverse backgrounds and industries. I have been a member of IWF Florida since 1998 and participated in its growth and in the sponsorship of two global conferences. As global president, my role is to work with 76 forums in 35 countries. Our membership is comprised of 7,500 women leaders. Of course, there is a wonderful professional and administrative staff that does most of the heavy lifting. I, along with the IWF board, set the strategy for IWF’s growth to assure that we remain relevant in this ever-changing world. We do not advocate for causes, but through our two annual conferences we introduce women to global problems and solutions that they can implement in their communities, in their industries, in their professions and in their lives.

Q. What are some ways the organization is developing the next generation of women leaders locally and globally?

A. IWF has various leadership development programs for rising women leaders:

The Leadership Foundation, IWF’s charitable and educational entity, was established in1990 to empower high-potential women leaders through executive training, mentoring and networking opportunities. Through its flagship initiative, the Fellows Program, the Leadership Foundation provides women from around the world with the resources, education and network they need to succeed at the highest levels. Since 1994, the Fellows Program has supported more than 450 women leaders in 47 nations. Each year, the Leadership Foundation aspires to select a geographically, culturally, ethnically and professionally diverse group of women. Each candidate possesses the ambition to push to the highest levels of their career and the desire to lift as they rise with regards to legacy and mentoring.

IWF is proud to partner with Ernst & Young (EY), the international accounting firm, on the EY Women Athletes Business Network mentoring program. This program launched in 2015 and is designed to harness the untapped leadership potential of elite women athletes. It provides support for current and former elite female athletes who are transitioning from sport to a professional career in business, government or other spheres of leadership. Each mentee is paired with an IWF member for a yearlong mentoring experience, which includes a two-day leadership roundtable and participation in the IWF World Leadership Conference. The 2016 class included nine athletes who competed in the Rio Olympics.

Since 2014, IWF has had special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. We are formulating ways to use our extensive global network of women leaders to assist in meeting the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and an IWF delegation is attending the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women meeting taking place at UN Headquarters in March.

Q. You’ve made several big career changes over the years, from tax attorney to university fundraising to wealth management. How did that help shape the leader you are now?

A. I have had a varied career, but each job’s skills have been important to the next position. I learned and changed along the way to become a better listener and to know how to move people along toward a goal. We learn from our experiences and hopefully take those techniques to our next cause. I am fortunate to be able to use all these skills to help our clients at Merrill Lynch.

Q. What advice do you have for ambitious young people getting started in their careers?

A. Be aware, be patient, be involved, be a team player. I always look for a “can do” attitude. It is also very important to be a good listener and learn from those around you.

Q. About the same time as taking the helm of the global IWF, you changed positions after 18 years at Fiduciary Trust. How do you morph and adapt when you’re not 40 anymore?

A. And you forgot to add studying for taking licensing exams at the same time. Change is energizing, and the move to Merrill Lynch has been rewarding for our team and our clients. I have always been very organized and disciplined. Because IWF is global, our board members are in different time zones. I was able to hold IWF meetings at 7 a.m. or at 8 p.m. Suffice it to say, I survived on little sleep the first few months of 2016.

Q. What are some of the most common mistakes you see women making in investing?

A. Women control a majority of the world’s assets and wealth. According to Harvard Business Review, women dictate spending in most categories of consumer goods and drive the world economy. Many women are the savvy investors in their families, but a common mistake is not having confidence in their own judgment. Others need to become knowledgeable about investing and about their finances. I strongly believe that women should ask questions to learn what they own, how they own it and where it is located in case they have a life-changing event.

Q. What do you think are some of the keys to your own business success?

A. I am relentless in the pursuit of value for my clients. I am resilient, fast-moving and can adapt to changes and new situations.

Q. How has your family influenced you and your career in leadership?

A. My family is my anchor. My husband, Lee, and three children, Robert, Margarita and Sarah, are very proud of what I have accomplished. My brothers have also been a great sounding board.

Q. You are co-chair of Leave a Legacy and involved in other community pursuits, including as a mentor for WIN Lab, a women’s business accelerator. Please tell me about your community involvement and why that is important to you.

A. I have been volunteering since I was a young girl. As a teenager, I volunteered on the weekends in migrant labor camps. We each have a duty to make our communities stronger. I take great pride in Miami and try to help wherever I can. However, it is important not to be too scattered or desultory in the causes you support. For this reason, I have stepped down from some organizations to focus on empowering the next generation of leaders.

Q. What’s the best advice you ever received and from whom?

A. My father, Raul Valdes-Fauli, stressed that I should always work hard and prepare carefully.

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-576-3595, @ndahlberg

Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub

Age: 63

Present position: Managing director and financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, since 2016. Partner in the Weintraub Adessi Group comprised of five experienced individuals advising families and institutions on their financial needs.

Other career highlights: President and CEO of Fiduciary Trust International of the South, 1998-2016. Vice president of Northern Trust Bank of Florida, 1996-98. Before that, she was executive director of development at the University of Miami and a tax attorney for Exxon Corp. Member of the Florida Bar since 1981.

Education: Boston College Law School, J.D., 1979; Newton College of the Sacred Heart (now Boston College), bachelor’s, 1975.

International Women’s Forum involvement: Global president, 2016-present; board member, 2010 to present. IWF’s Florida Forum: board member, 2002-11; president, 2007-09.

Other recent philanthropy highlights: Dade County Leave a Legacy co-chair, 1998-present; CANARAS, 1995-present. Miami Jewish Health Systems Board Member 2014-16; United Way of Dade County Board of Trustees Member 1985-89, 1998-present; Boston College Council for Women member, 2005-present; numerous Planned Giving Advisory Boards, 1996 to present.

Personal: Born in Havana; married with three children.

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