2017 Honoree

Marlene Debel

EVP & CFO, US Metlife

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Opportunities will pass you by if you wait until it’s easy. It is important to understand that no one can read your mind. You have to speak up.”

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

A “Power Woman” is someone who is authentic, open-minded, and most importantly, advocates for other women in order to help them open doors and overcome challenges.

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?

I am most focused on mentoring. I have had many informal mentors along the way who were critical in helping me see the big picture and push past obstacles. I find that women generally have to work twice as hard to get to the same place as men because, even with all good intentions, unconscious bias is real. A mentor can help you to sort through issues (real and imagined) and that can make all the difference. It doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement–just simply about having someone to talk to for encouragement and advice.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

I would love to be a psychologist. I minored in psychology in college and have always been interested in helping people identify and work through challenges. I like to get to the root cause of issues. I definitely find myself applying this approach to mentoring women.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block in the work place and what you did about it?

The common theme for me throughout my career is learning to speak up for myself. This was especially true when a position I wanted opened up and my boss hadn’t even thought of me. I realized this was the case because when I asked to be considered the reaction was surprise. But, I got the job. It is important to understand that no one can read your mind. You have to speak up.

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

Without a doubt, becoming a mother is the most transformational experience of my life. Parenthood has taught me about priorities and knowing what is important over the short term and long term. It is about being super organized, yet very flexible. Collaboration and communication with my husband and children is the key. All of these skills are also critical for professional success.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Opportunities will pass you by if you wait until it is easy.

There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?

The fact of the matter is that women are half of the population and should be better represented in boardrooms and executive management. Diversity of thought leads to better business results. My company, MetLife, is recognized as a leader in this area with women comprising nearly 30 percent of our board of directors. I believe that sponsorship is the key to increasing the amount of women in these positions.

Who do you most admire? Why?

My parents, for raising three children who really like each other–even as adults!

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

There are so many good books to choose from, but I would say Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss. It is totally unconventional, but it really made me stop and think.

What is your favorite place on earth? Why?

I love skiing and find the mountains to be very peaceful. But, anywhere I can spend time with my family is my favorite place.

Table / Sponsorship Request Access

For additonal inforamtion send an email to moonah@newyorkmoves.net or to request code over the phone 646.489.1633 

Check Spam for code

For additonal inforamtion send an email to pwgala2023@movespowerwomen.com or call 212.396.23.94 or 646.489.1633 (also text for rapid response)