Member Spotlight: Nell Cady-Kruse on Women in Leadership
September 13, 2018

Pacific Council sustaining member Nell Cady-Kruse was most recently a senior global executive at Standard Chartered Bank. She was their chief risk officer for wholesale banking in 2011 and 2012, based in Singapore. As such she was responsible for credit risk and operational risk in over 70 countries, mainly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She retired from Standard Chartered in August 2014 and recently moved to Pacific Palisades, California. She currently serves as an independent board member of Barclays Bank Delaware and Barclays US, and chairs both board risk committees.

Nell has 30 years of global banking experience having been based in Asia, Europe and the United States. She spent fifteen years with Bankers Trust Company in New York, London and Los Angeles and another decade with Credit Suisse based in London and then Hong Kong, where she was the Chief Risk Officer – Asia Pacific.

As part of a new series highlighting the dynamic work of our members and sustaining members, the Pacific Council recently spoke with Cady-Kruse to discuss her experience with the Council and her views on foreign affairs, women in leadership, and more.

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Pacific Council: How long have you been involved with the Pacific Council?

Nell Cady-Kruse: I’ve been involved with the Council since 2016. My first event was a special dinner conversation with former CIA Director John Brennan. It was such an impactful event, I decided to join the Pacific Council.  Retired US Army Colonel Steve Miska was my sponsor.  I’ve been a dedicated member since then.

What types of learning experiences, like events and trips, have you experienced with the Council?

I’ve benefited from a variety of different types of Pacific Council events. In 2016, I participated in the local field foray to the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in San Diego. We flew onto the carrier, spent the night, observed training operations, and met with crewmembers and flew off of the aircraft carrier the next day. The experience taught me so much about the dedication of, and sacrifices made by our armed service men and women.

It’s truly remarkable who comes and speaks at the Pacific Council—these are people you never thought you would meet, let alone shake hands with and sit across the table from.

Last fall, my husband Steve and I traveled with a Pacific Council delegation to Brussels and The Hague. We were able tour the European Parliament, meet with leaders of NATO, the Marshall Fund, the International Criminal Court, and more. It was an eye-opening trip, and it was also a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with other Council members.

I also vividly remember the Members Weekend [now known as PolicyWest] where we heard from former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. There were other great sessions including the U.S.-Mexico partnership with then-US Ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, and a spirited debate on the future of US global leadership to name a few.

What did you appreciate the most about these experiences?

The quality and stature of the speakers and participants is world class. It’s truly remarkable who comes and speaks—these are people you never thought you would meet, let alone shake hands with and sit across the table from. Pacific Council events and trips are also a great way to get to know other members on a more intimate basis. I especially like meeting people while on the trips. While some people may enjoy networking during cocktail hours and dinners, I find that when you’re sitting on a bus next to someone for an hour in a foreign country, you really learn something!

What excites you about the future of foreign affairs?

The world we live in now is more interconnected than ever before. With modern communication, what happens in “faraway places” is now hitting us front and center; nothing can be ignored purely because of distance anymore. It matters what’s going on elsewhere. Our community is no longer just our neighborhood, we live in a global community. It all impacts us. It all matters to our everyday life.

You’ve worked in and with many countries during your career in global banking. Why do you see the West Coast as an important center for international affairs?

Los Angeles, and the West Coast, are very important geographically, particularly in terms of trade, U.S.-Mexico relations, climate change, agriculture, technology, and water resource issues. Because of the location and proximity to Asia and Latin America, and because of the major impact of trade in this state, people on the West Coast are generally well informed about what’s going on around the world.

Women have been so seriously underrepresented in foreign policy, it’s pathetic. It’s critical to our global future to have women properly represented in foreign policy.

With the size of California’s economy—now equivalent to the GDP of the fifth largest economy in the world—it is critical to be involved on the global stage. We are also the center for the media and film industry, which is an international business. 

Many of Pacific Council’s members don’t necessarily work in the foreign affairs field, yet they have an interest and desire in being a part of the conversation and effecting change. Why is it important for professionals of all backgrounds to participate in these types of discussions?

Foreign affairs and policy affects all of us. From our everyday lives, to our individual careers, it’s all global. It’s naive to say, "I’m just domestically focused, it doesn’t matter what’s going on abroad." And my personal perspective from a career in finance, the field is totally global. I cannot think of an area which is not impacted by world affairs. Markets are connected everywhere you go. You see this in today’s headline news about trade wars. Things which you took for granted will change.

How do you see women as integral to the future of foreign affairs and policy? Why should more women seek leadership roles?

Women have been so seriously underrepresented in foreign policy, it’s pathetic. And in business in general, as well. There’s a lack of women in senior leadership positions and it’s critical to our global future to have women properly represented in foreign policy. I don’t have the solutions, but I think it’s one of our most critical issues. We are just leaving behind half of the educated and engaged population by not including them.

My advice to women would be get involved, join organizations like the Pacific Council, get engaged, read, listen, learn, and participate. We need more women's voices addressing our global problems.

My advice to women would be get involved, join organizations like the Pacific Council, get engaged, read, listen, learn, and participate. Find one area that is of great interest. We can’t all be good at everything, so pick something that matters to you. We need more women's voices addressing our global problems. But men need to help solve this problem too by including women in the conversation. I encourage men to go the extra mile in seeking women’s opinions and prodding them to engage.

If you could share leadership advice with some of the Pacific Council’s younger members, what would it be?

Spend less time watching television and a lot more time reading, listening, and participating. It’s probably heresy to say this in an entertainment city, but put some of those hours spent binge-watching television shows and instead show up and participate. Discuss issues with people, listen to people debate. That’s how things get done in a foreign affairs context. Diplomacy is not on Twitter.

Relationships and trust matter—and you build that face-to-face, with engagement and action. And have a passion. The way you get to care about something is by listening to someone who is really good at talking about it. You’ll leave feeling excited about something.

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Get in touch with Nell if you’re interested in learning more about her work by emailing us at engage@pacificcouncil.org.

Help the Pacific Council bring new, diverse, and underrepresented voices into our international affairs work by making a donation to our Pay It Forward annual giving campaign.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.

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