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In the Nation's Interest

2018 Awards Dinner Spotlight: Ellen R. Alemany

by CED June 15, 2018

Ellen R. Alemany is the Chairwoman and CEO of CIT Group. She is the recipient of CED's Peter G. Peterson Business Statesmanship Award. You can view her bio here

What advice do you have for those who aspire to careers in leadership, or have just started to serve in a leadership capacity?

Leading a project, business or company can be incredibly rewarding. I have always found it helpful to have clear goals in mind so others on the team understand the direction. In addition, keeping your end customer or stakeholder in mind is critical – understanding their needs and how you can serve them should always be top of mind.  Leadership also often requires agility as new opportunities or challenges arise. Remember it is a marathon, not a sprint. Lastly, demonstrate passion and commitment in what you are doing. Keep focused on the goals and customer, adapt as needed, and be committed to deliver. 

Has your company spearheaded a particular philanthropic or societal initiative that you would like to share?

Strong businesses are integral to creating strong communities. In that spirit, CIT recently launched a small business empowerment series called Launch + Grow in partnership with the nonprofit Operation HOPE. The series offers insights on key topics like accessing capital, recovering from mistakes and leading through growth. We want to inspire business owners to grow their operation and have access to the information and encouragement that it often takes to thrive for the long term. 

Which aspect of your company’s culture has made the biggest contribution to its success?

The key to a successful culture is empowering the right behaviors and ensuring they are consistently adopted across the company.  One of the first steps we took when I began to lead CIT is to establish six Core Behaviors that would serve as the guideposts for our culture. We reinforce these behaviors regularly through communications, a recognition program and in the performance management process. The most important part of success in this area is clearly establishing the standards, consistently reinforcing them, and recognizing those that are culture carriers.