First Horizon’s CFO Hope Dmuchowski on the key to her success: The Climb

Hope Dmuchowski

Hope Dmuchowski, the chief monetary officer of First Horizon Financial institution, bought into banking largely attributable to an opportunity encounter. 

When she was a junior in school, her hometown of Certain Brook, New Jersey flooded, so she volunteered to assist with the cleanup. A Deutsche financial institution government was additionally volunteering and he was struck by her management expertise.

He supplied her a summer time internship with the financial institution, however she initially turned him down. “I had three jobs lined up for the summer time. I used to be waitressing. I used to be lifeguarding, and I used to be a full time nanny. And I wasn’t all in favour of getting on the prepare each morning for an extended commute to New York from the place I lived.”

The Deutsche exec countered that he might pay her $25 an hour. “I am working three jobs and for those who added all of them collectively, I do not suppose I used to be making $25 an hour,” she mentioned. ” And that was the primary cause I took it.”

By the top of the summer time, the financial institution had requested Dmuchowski to proceed working two days every week and after she graduated, she joined Deutsche’s management growth program. 

Dmuchowski spent the primary two months of Deutsche Financial institution’s two-year lengthy management program in London. She and the opposite 500 international trainees have been in London when the assaults on 9/11 occurred. On the time, the U.S. headquarters of Deutsche financial institution was adjoining to the World Commerce Middle, so Dmuchowski and her fellow U.S. trainees have been caught in England. They spent an extra two months working there earlier than returning house. (Though the constructing hadn’t been broken within the assault, attributable to intensive contamination, the financial institution determined to tear the constructing down.)

She spent six years at Deutsche Financial institution, and her closing place there was as a enterprise supervisor for fairness and international markets analysis. “It is just like what a chief working officer does at this time,” she mentioned. Dmuchowski was liable for the price range for a number of international locations, reviewing the work of the analysts and guaranteeing that the supplies had been authorised earlier than publishing, whereas additionally engaged on compliance points with the operations group.

She joined Winston Salem-based BB&T in 2007 as a monetary reporting supervisor, and over the subsequent 10 years, labored her method up the ranks till she was named Group CFO in July 2017. In late 2019, BB&T and SunTrust Banks went by means of a merger of equals and have become Truist. 

Dmuchowski stayed on as group CFO for 2 years earlier than decamping in November 2021 to Memphis-based First Horizon as its CFO. She has seven direct stories and manages a group of 250. Along with the normal finance groups she oversees together with accounting and investor relations, she’s additionally liable for the financial institution’s company buildings and amenities. 

About 60 days into her new job, Toronto Dominion entered into an acquisition settlement to purchase First Horizon. Dmuchowski spent the subsequent 15 months getting ready for the merger, just for it to be known as off in Could of 2023. “The regulators mentioned that we weren’t going to get approval this yr, unlikely to get approval subsequent yr,  and that it was not taking place anytime quickly. So we mutually agreed to terminate the settlement,” she mentioned.

Humble beginnings

Dmuchowski and her two siblings have been raised by a single mom. The expertise formed her worldview and her work ethic. “It actually confirmed me at a really, very younger age, that my payments are paid by somebody who’s working. I feel typically whenever you’re raised in a center class family, the cash’s simply there. And so for me, we have been at all times speaking about budgeting. We’re speaking about how a lot cash we had for groceries, how we’re saving for trip, and so it was actually entrance of thoughts for me rising up.”

She labored two jobs in highschool and as much as 4 jobs in school earlier than she landed the Deutsche Financial institution internship. “When folks requested me why I had so many roles, I believed, ‘how else was I going to pay for faculty?’ It by no means dawned on me to take out tons of of hundreds in pupil loans.  I wasn’t raised that method. My mother by no means had a mortgage. We by no means had a automotive at sure occasions rising up, so it did not daybreak on me to not work to pay for faculty.” 

When Dmuchowski began school, she deliberate on being a instructor as a result of, on the time and in her neighborhood, ladies have been both academics or nurses. Nevertheless, when she began taking enterprise courses and a category in industrial psychology, she modified course and bought a B.A. in psychology with a minor in enterprise. 

At this time, she mentioned that she’s enthusiastic about sharing her story with different ladies who may not see anybody who resembles them within the office. “I hope that ladies from each background can see themselves in my seat at some point. You do not have to come back from the perfect prep faculties, the perfect schools. And you do not have to look the half; you may get right here by working onerous,” she mentioned. 

On being a pacesetter

Dmuchowski, one of many few feminine CFOs of a giant U.S. financial institution, mentioned that main with authenticity and kindness are an important traits for her. It is essential, she mentioned, to offer an surroundings the place folks can be taught, develop and really feel supported to strive totally different concepts with out worrying about unfavorable penalties from making errors.

“I name it failing ahead. Now we have a failure, so how will we transfer ahead? How will we be taught from it? How will we ensure that we by no means repeat the identical mistake twice?”

To deal with these questions, she carried out one thing she calls a “sport tape evaluate.” A lot as a soccer group would do after a loss, Dmuchowski sits down along with her group members they usually evaluate what went unsuitable and the way they could right it going ahead. She additionally does a group evaluate when a mission goes proper. 

Modifications to the business

A extra intentional focus within the banking sector on getting ladies into management positions is among the greatest adjustments Dmuchowski has seen within the final 20 years. “Not simply inside an organization, but in addition having feminine board members who have a look at the ranks to see what number of ladies are on the manager group,” she defined.

Nevertheless, she says, there may be nonetheless some unintentional bias or sexism in the direction of ladies throughout the business. Dmuchowski recalled the story of a feminine dealer who spoke at The Most Highly effective Ladies in Banking convention final yr. When she was pregnant, the girl mentioned, she was subjected to inappropriate feedback and males who wished to the touch her stomach. 

Whereas Dmuchowski provides that overt unhealthy habits of that sort is uncommon these days, it’s nonetheless difficult for ladies to get forward — and even keep — within the business. “We’re nonetheless shedding ladies within the center rungs. They’re leaving 10 years in and so I fear about the truth that we’re not growing the variety of ladies at each single rung,” she mentioned.

And whereas the business has made “vital progress” within the final decade to get ladies into the C-suite, Dmuchowski thinks it is essential to maintain the intentionality of selling ladies going ahead. “We have to preserve that momentum up and ensure the youthful generations which can be coming by means of are being promoted, and that they’ve the help round them to maintain working inside our business,” she mentioned. 

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