February 19, 2015

PHILADELPHIA, PA, Feb. 19, 2015 — The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania joins Women's World Banking to announce the Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program, which will launch in April 2015.

Through this one-year program, implemented in partnership with Credit Suisse with additional support from the Cisco Foundation, a CEO or senior executive and a high-potential female employee from 20 financial institutions across the globe will participate in parallel leadership programs to develop skills to successfully serve low-income women.

The program will feature a combination of classroom lectures with Wharton management faculty, coaching, and complemented by Women's World Banking's expertise in financial inclusion, research, and product innovation.

Wharton faculty will facilitate a three-day CEO/senior executive forum in New York in April followed by a three-day CEO/senior executive roundtable in India in September, coinciding with a one-week long leadership program for the women leaders. Creative Metier, internationally-recognized experts in remote coaching delivery and financial inclusion will provide executive coaching support to complement the in-person trainings throughout the year.

More than one billion women globally do not have access to financial services. At the same time, women are the fastest-growing, most dynamic market segment in the world. Organizations seeking to narrow the gap in financial inclusion--and win a share of this market--must be leaders in innovation. Research conducted by Women's World Banking shows that most executives in financial institutions serving low-income clients receive little or no leadership or management training. The executives surveyed understand that mastering effective leadership, including building a diverse workforce, developing talent, expanding product offerings, planning for succession and redefining organizational culture, is essential if they are to keep pace with innovation and deliver on the double-bottom line.

Women's World Banking's Leadership and Diversity for Innovation Program exposes participants to the latest business practices and thinking to help them build a sustainable future towards serving low-income populations with financial products and services. It's a future that increasingly must address the needs of women.

Participating financial institutions provide critical services, including credit to start small businesses, insurance and savings programs. But, many of these institutions face rapidly changing market dynamics that are forcing leaders to rethink their business models, from the convergence of non-profit and banking for low-income clients, to the rise of mobile payments that is transforming how people do financial transactions.

"Managing that complexity is vital, and that's what this program cultivates through a combination of classroom work, mentoring, coaching and hands-on application," says program faculty director Michael Useem, William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and director, Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School. "We are working with Women's World Banking to ensure that the program participants, whether they are CEOs or rising leaders, have a complete skill set to succeed."

All two-person teams from participating institutions in the 2015 program will identify and solve a real-time challenge facing their institution, such as growing the business responsibly, better serving clients, reaching new market segments or creating inclusive workplaces. On an individual level:

  • CEOs/senior executives will focus on harnessing their leadership to drive institution change through tools for coaching and talent management, critical thinking and scenario planning, and
  • Women leaders will focus on individual development to best contribute to the organization by honing their visioning, negotiation and strategic relationship-building to achieve impact.

"We're thrilled to welcome two participants from each institution, particularly for the opportunity this brings to emerging women leaders," says Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women's World Banking. "The CEOs and senior executives will play a critical role as a sponsor, going beyond the traditional mentorship role to support the women leaders in developing their own leadership vision and bringing their own voices to the decision-making table. The organization wins too by fostering new and different perspectives to drive innovation."

Participants will work together to address how to best serve the women's market through customer-centric innovation. At the end of the program, participants will have enhanced their critical and strategic thinking skills, and will gain a laser-like customer focus making them better equipped to make leadership decisions.

"Wharton and Women's World Banking have been working together on leadership development for nearly a decade, and this new curriculum is a testament to how our program has evolved with the needs of the institutions," concludes Iskenderian. "Past participants have always expressed their gratitude for a world class academic institution that is commitment to improving leaders and organizations that are serving the lowest-income clients in the world."

To learn more about Women's World Banking and the Leadership and Diversity for Inclusion program, visit www.womensworldbanking.org.


About Women's World Banking

Women's World Banking is the global non-profit devoted to giving more low-income women access to the financial tools and resources essential to their security and prosperity. For more than 35 years we have worked with financial institutions to show them the benefit of investing in women as clients, and as leaders. We equip these institutions to meet women's needs through authoritative market research, leadership training, sustainable financial products and consumer education. Headquartered in New York, Women's World Banking works with 34 institutions in 24 countries with a reach of 14 million women to create access to finance on a greater scale that ever before.

About Creative Metier

Creative Metier specializes in supporting senior leaders and their organizations, which often operate in highly complex environments, to resolve the most challenging issues they face. Working in Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Senior Leadership Development, Strategic HR and Organizational Development, our approach is always respectful, long term and consultative. Headquartered in the UK, Creative Metier works globally and delivers remote coaching to senior leaders in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Committed to working at global and regional levels to expand financial inclusion, the aim of Creative Metier's work with financial institutions, service providers to the sector, industry bodies and regional donor programs is to substantially increase the impact of their work.

About the Wharton School

Founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is shaping the future of business by incubating ideas, driving insights, and creating leaders who change the world. With a faculty of more than 235 renowned professors, Wharton has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students. Each year 13,000 professionals from around the world advance their careers through Wharton Executive Education’s individual, company-customized, and online programs, and thousands of pre-collegiate students explore business concepts through Wharton’s Global Youth Program. More than 105,000 Wharton alumni form a powerful global network of leaders who transform business every day. For more information, visit www.wharton.upenn.edu.

Media Contact

Sarah SchwabDirector of Communications Aresty Institute of Executive Education
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania