Ambassador John B. Emerson Welcomes FWA Delegation
Recognizing the importance of cross-border capabilities for multi-national companies, this year’s Financial Women’s Association (FWA) International Conference met in Berlin, where both the varied speakers and Delegation sent a message from the world’s fourth largest economy that women are serving the financial markets in growing numbers and in increasingly important ways. The conference topics related to capital markets issues, technology, leadership and mentoring; these and others were woven into the four-day program.
The FWA’s annual conferences are designed to expose its membership to private and public sector leaders. Germany, which was marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was the 25th country the FWA has visited.
Kimberly Weinrick, FWA president, highlighted the FWA’s nearly 60-year history as an organization that has grown and flourished over the years. Now boasting nearly 850 members — both women and men — since its inception the FWA has created opportunities for networking and professional growth, and developed strong mentoring programs that have reached more than 5,000 students and young professionals.
The conference opening was held at the U.S. Embassy just steps from the historic Brandenburg Gate; the 50 FWA delegates joined embassy representatives and some 50 additional guests invited by the Embassy from Berlin’s business and government community. They were officially welcomed by U.S. Ambassador John B. Emerson, who noted that Weinrick had the previous week participated in the U.S. State Department’s Women’s Day event in New York which, he stated, illustrated the essential role that non-governmental and grassroots organizations play in empowering women.
“The founding eight members of the FWA were visionaries that recognized the importance of mentoring and scholarship programs; of networking; of seeking opportunities to talk policy with government officials, and industry leaders, both at home and beyond.” Ambassador Emerson said. “Those eight women recognized the impact that the financial services and banking sectors had on our economies and their impact on the political and social concerns of the day. They knew then that women needed not just to have a seat at the table when it came to facing the challenges ahead; they needed to be equally represented – at all levels of the industry.”
Fast forward 58 years and it’s obvious that this trail has been blazed. “We all have come a long way,” he said. “Women have overcome discrimination, shattered glass ceilings, and become outstanding role models – both in the world of finance and beyond. They have set an example for our daughters – and our sons. I am very appreciative of the commitment that people like you, the members of the Financial Women’s Association, demonstrate.”
He identified several prominent women, in addition to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who occupy positions at the highest levels of finance, among them Sabine Lautenschläger, who recently moved to the directorate of the European Central Bank from the Deutsche Bundesbank, and whose position will be filled by Professor Claudia Buch. The Ambassador also noted that the FWA would be meeting with Dr. Elke König, the head of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.
Recalling a comment by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that she never personally experienced discrimination, Ambassador Emerson said: “Some of the other women I just mentioned, or you yourselves, may agree or disagree with that statement. Nevertheless, it is a fact that finance is still a male-dominated realm – in both the U.S. and Europe. And I saw that first hand in my time in the industry.”
Katrin Dambrot, FWA VP of International Affairs thanked the Ambassador and his team and offered the Delegation and guests an overview of the robust agenda of the conference, including a meeting at the Bundesbank with the regional president Claus Tigges; Q&A with Dan Yergin, Pulitzer Prize winner; and time with Elizabeth Corley, CEO of Allianz Global Investors, and Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. Joined by Conference Co-Chair Lisa Mezzetti, they highlighted the upcoming programs and reiterated key themes. Stephanie Ackler, from the sponsoring firm Wells Fargo Advisors, provided a token of appreciation to Ambassador Emerson, on behalf of the full FWA Delegation.
Special thanks to Wells Fargo for sponsoring this special opening reception.