05/01/2016 10:55 GMT | Updated 05/01/2017 05:12 GMT

Women in Business Q&A: Monique Herena, Senior Executive Vice President, BNY Mellon

Monique R. Herena is a Senior Executive Vice President of BNY Mellon and the company's Chief Human Resources Officer. As Senior Executive Vice President, Ms. Herena oversees BNY Mellon's Human Resources and Marketing & Corporate Affairs departments. Marketing & Corporate Affairs encompasses Corporate Marketing, Corporate Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility and the company's community and employee programs. As Chief Human Resources Officer, Ms. Herena is responsible for all human resources strategies, policies and practices for more than 51,000 employees around the world. Further, she leads the efforts to attract, retain, develop and reward talent globally.

Ms. Herena is a member of BNY Mellon's Executive Committee, the organization's most senior management body, which oversees day-to-day operations. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE:BK).

A board member of the BNY Mellon Foundation, Ms. Herena is also the Executive Committee sponsor for BNY Mellon's Helping Each Ability by Respecting and Teaching (HEART) employee resource group. Reflecting BNY Mellon's commitment to diversity and workplace excellence, HEART is one of six employee resource groups that support employees with shared interests.

Prior to joining BNY Mellon, Ms. Herena spent 13 years with PepsiCo and advanced through a variety of leadership positions.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Leadership is about being a force for positive change. The hardest type of leadership is influencing those around you - irrespective of reporting lines. Winning hearts and minds happens because you've built trust, invested in people, given feedback to help them grow and rewarded great results.

Growing up, I played basketball and a number of other team sports, and I remember how effective my coaches were at pushing me to be the best version of me I could be. A strong work ethic and high performance standard is something you need to hold yourself to - and it's infectious. You raise the bar for everyone by raising your own bar.

We have all met challenges in life, and we have to have the courage to embrace those experiences and let them change you for the better as a leader.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at BNY Mellon?

I joined BNY Mellon from PepsiCo, where I spent 13 great years living and working across multiple locations around the world. One of the most high impact experiences was living in Dubai with my family for just over three years. I led an HR team that covered Australia through Morocco and was made up of 50,000 people spanning cultures and different stages of market development. Spending so much time living and working in developing and emerging markets strengthened my commitment to fully leveraging different backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking and leading.

I brought that commitment to BNY Mellon, where diversity and inclusion have always been central to what we do every day. We look to our employees to provide creative insights and innovative solutions to meet the wide-ranging and evolving needs of our clients globally. Diversity, talent and culture are often companies' strongest, yet most underappreciated competitive advantages. Increasing the diversity in our leadership ranks is tremendously important to us. We are focused on developing the best leaders in the financial services industry.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at BNY Mellon?

We have honed our strategy and we are committed to delivering strong performance as a team. The process of getting focused on the goal and delivering together under pressure has been a real highlight. The athlete in me is motivated by rising to the occasion and moving the ball down the court. There are always challenges, but we use them as opportunities to become stronger as a team - so far so good!

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

I love my career, I don't think of it as a job. Having spent many years in the consumer products industry, I would not have thought my path would lead to financial services, but I have found it to be extremely rewarding. As a company, we are in the business of improving lives through investing, and I am in the business of people - finding and developing the right people and culture to achieve our business strategy. Financial services is changing so rapidly, and we need people who want to drive change and shape the future of finance.

My advice for women who want to build a successful career in financial services, or any industry for that matter, is to get in the game and stay in the game with great performance. Never let yourself get comfortable. There is always more to learn, something to improve, a new goal or breakthrough to achieve.

What are the most important lessons you've learned in your career to date?

You don't have to have all the answers at each stage in your career, but you can and should tap into the expertise of others every day. Use the collective intelligence around you to facilitate and drive change. Have passion and see the possibilities, and you'll be someone who people want as their leader and teammate.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I don't like the balance language per se. My success, personally and professionally, has happened because I have a life that has ups and downs like everyone else. I have a career I love that comes with a lot of responsibility, a great team, an awesome husband, three amazing kids, a fantastic Labrador Retriever and friends and family who are extremely important to me. Being "present," with a bigger purpose in mind of bringing the best version of me to the table - whether at home or work - is key.

I make it a point to make time for myself and not feel guilty about it. None of us are perfect and every day I work to manage my nutrition, my workouts and my schedule the best I can to make the choices that matter the most to me. My best days are eating right to keep my mental and emotional energy up, a front row ride at Soul Cycle and driving a lot of great outcomes at home and at work! Sometimes it is through leading and sometimes it is through listening and supporting. I am a spiritual person as well, and I gain a lot of strength by allowing myself some quiet time to reflect and set new goals.

Sometimes you feel like you get it right and sometimes you don't, but I try to be kind to myself.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I have had the benefit of both female and male mentors over the years. My mentors include a female professor, who encouraged me to go onto graduate school; my Mom, who built a very successful real estate development career later in her life and has been a fighter as she's dealt with a serious chronic illness; and my Dad, who made teaching his life and his love. These people have had a profound impact on my values, goals and the choices I have made.

I have also had sponsors - a role that was very different from that of my mentors. My sponsors took really big bets on me because I had proven myself through strong performance. They saw leadership potential, a hunger and willingness to grow, and the ability to land on my feet in new situations, so they supported some big moves for me along the way. Many times they said, "Trust me, she will not disappoint, put her in the job," and that matters. When you earn that kind of trust, it motivates you to keep striving.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

So many! I admire women and men who are authentic leaders and bring their A game every day, even when there are challenges. I've been inspired and supported by a lot of strong, professional women like Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, and Karen Peetz, President of BNY Mellon. I admire industry leadership, expertise, performance and the ability to see around the corner. I was particularly inspired by the U.S. Women's Soccer Team this year. My daughter, because I see the world through her six-year-old eyes, with all the wonder and potential of what she and others can become. My husband and I are also raising two sons who are great people, and they believe that women can do anything. I love the attitude of openness and possibility their generation brings to the world.

What do you want BNY Mellon to accomplish in the next year?

My focus is on using talent to accelerate our business transformation and unleash BNY Mellon's full potential. BNY Mellon is set to lead and inspire bold change to enable the world's best talent to be successful. We have extraordinary people who are driving our high-performance team culture.