Comparing the two regions she now manages, Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa says, "The European market has a highly developed and competitive banking environment, which along with its different regulatory regimes, requires a different approach than that of Latin America. Add to this fact that there are multiple tiers of development within countries in the European market, making Europe a much more complex business environment than Latin America."
In recent years when other private banking units such as Barclays and ABN Amro were dramatically scaling back or pulling out of Latin America entirely, Citigroup dug in and adapted to the changing climate – not surprising, given the bank's presence in the region dating back to 1914.
Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa shares her company's commitment to Latin America. "We have worked very hard and have been fortunate to have had strong growth in our business in the last several years despite the difficulties experienced in the region. However, I believe there is substantial room to increase the business we do with our existing clients, making sure we know them better than any of our competitors."
Heritage has helped Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa as a private banker, where personal relationships determine success. "Given that one of the continents that I manage for the Citigroup Private Bank is Latin America, it gives me the sensitivity to understand the differences in cultures within countries of the same region. Our clients perceive me as someone who understands their background, who listens to them and who works hard at meeting their needs. It is extremely important to show respect by acknowledging the differences in our cultures and addressing them properly through the services we provide," she says.
Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa is particularly well-suited to excel in the international marketplace: She's fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. But despite her intercontinental responsibilities, she still finds time to have a home life. "I work hard at balancing my roles in life as a leader, wife, and mother to my three children," she says. She also works in the community by serving on the board of the Miami City Ballet and getting involved in several charitable organizations. "I inherited a very strong sense of community from my mother, and I have always been a firm believer that everyone has a responsibility to give something back to their community," says Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa, who is of Cuban and Spanish descent.
Monsignor Jude O'Doherty, of the Church of the Epiphany in Miami, has known Ms. Sevilla-Sacasa for more than 20 years and describes her as "A lady in every sense of the word, in her manner and deportment. Even though she has a high-profile job, she's very unassuming, just a lovely person." He also has high praise for the way she and her husband, Eugenio, balance their work and family lives: "If I could find the recipe they are following, I would give it to everyone," he says. In addition to attending church regularly when she's not traveling for work, she has served as the head of the Epiphany School's advisory board, he says.
What advice does she offer for up-and-coming Hispanic executives? "I hate to sound like a mother, but a proper education and a strong work ethic are key to improving the chances for anyone's success. An education does not stop after college," she says. "Surround yourself with people who share in your vision and enthusiasm. Mentor another Hispanic with the potential to succeed if given the right opportunity."
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