The Stevie Awards Blog

How a Female CEO Succeeds in Male-Dominated Financial Services

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, May 05, 2011 @ 12:39 PM

With the month-away launch of the call for entries for the 8th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, here's a profile of Debralee L. Goldberg, president and CEO of International Financial Data Services Canada in Toronto, named Best Canadian Executive in the 2010 Stevies for Women in Business.

Debralee GoldbergSince joining IFDS Canada as CEO in 2006, Debralee Goldberg has compiled an impressive record as a female chief executive in the traditionally male- dominated world of financial services. IFDS Canada’s operating income has risen by nearly 300%, and the number of clients has grown by 30%. Three of IFDS Canada’s 10 largest accounts were signed on in 2009–10.

Debralee Goldberg’s impact as CEO extends beyond the usual operating numbers, however, and includes initiatives in technology, the environment, and community giving.

Debralee began her 30-year career as an entry-level call-center employee in a Boston bank’s mutual fund division. Over the next eight years, she earned a number of management-level promotions, took additional courses, and learned the mutual fund business. She then took a five-year break to raise her family.

After her return, she rose to the executive ranks of First Data Investor Services, a spin-off from American Express, and then joined Kansas City-based DST Systems Inc. before being tapped to run IFDS Canada.

Reducing Environmental Impact
Since arriving in Toronto, Debralee’s solid understanding of mutual fund operations has allowed her to contribute as a board member of FundSERV, the Canadian financial-funds network responsible for managing intercompany settlements. Her deep knowledge has also enabled her to identify and champion ideas to improve client relations and operating efficiency, and to reduce the environmental impact of IFDS Canada. For example, new smart-screen technology has eliminated the company’s need to print received forms for data entry. In addition to eliminating paper, this advance increased data entry productivity by 60% and reduced by 70% the number of items requiring quality review.

Similarly, a new touch-screen solution now allows IFDS Canada mailroom associates to distribute incoming documents without printing and attaching paper routing instructions. This innovation has reduced monthly mailroom paper use by 50%.

Debralee is raising environmental awareness in other ways at IFDS Canada. She created a green-initiatives committee, has reduced travel with the use of VOIP and other e-meeting technologies, conducts annual green-awareness campaigns, and has supported distribution of reusable thermal lunch bags, drink bottles, and coffee mugs to all employees. As part of her personal commitment, she walks to work nearly every day.

Improved Technology
Technology improvements introduced under Debralee have reduced IFDS Canada’s carbon footprint and resulted in the deployment of these technologies by IFDS affiliates. They also contributed to IFDS Canada’s two software awards in 2009 and 2010: Best Use of Technology at the Canadian Investment Awards, and Progress Software’s SaaS Excellence Award.

Under Debralee’s leadership, the company continues to seek new ways to improve, spending more than $20 million annually on research and development.

Corporate Giving
Debralee recognizes the importance of giving back. In 2010, IFDS Canada’s charitable giving was on track to rise 350% over 2008. Employee participation in the same period increased nearly 50%.

Today IFDS supports more than 25 charities, including the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, University Settlement, the Hospital for Sick Kids, HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, and United Way.

Upon receiving her Stevie Award for Best Canadian Executive last November, Goldberg commented: “I am very much honored to be recognized by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Not only as the rare woman in a male-dominated world of financial services, but also as it reinforces the value of—and our commitment to—increasing customer satisfaction, increasing operational efficiency for our clients, contributing to worthy charities, and reducing our carbon footprint.” 

About Debralee Goldberg
Debralee Goldberg has risen from her first job as a mutual-fund call-center associate to CEO of IFDS Canada, where she demonstrates leadership in business growth and efficiency, R&D, green initiatives, and corporate giving. Prior to IFDS, Debralee spent 25 years in the mutual fund industry with Boston-based banks and services companies First Data Investor Services and DST Systems Inc.

As an alumna of Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, Debralee is an active member of the alumni board, the parents’ council, and the dean’s advisory board at her alma mater. She has been married to Bill Goldberg for 29 years and has two sons, Harrison and Benjamin. Their favorite family activity isskiing. A certified chef, Debralee enjoys cooking and reading in her spare time.  

About IFDS Canada
IFDS Canada is one of Canada’s largest transfer agencies, with over 500 employees and more than 10 million unit holder accounts. It has become a global leader in business process outsourcing and application services. IFDS Canada clients include a mutual fund managers, wealth managers, insurance companies and banks. The company is a joint venture of State Street Corporation and DST Systems Inc.  For more information visit www.ifdsgroup.com.

Tags: business awards, stevie awards, women awards, women in business awards, entrepreneur awards, best entrepreneur, Debralee Goldberg, IFDS

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