Briget Polichene, CEO of the Institute of International Bankers, answers questions from a member about rising to new challenges and building bridges among diverse viewpoints.
What challenges are unique to the foreign banking community in the U.S. and how does IIB help?
Being labeled “foreign” can be a challenge, especially in the current political environment. The IIB has been focused on making sure that policymakers and the public understand that foreign banks make extraordinary contributions to the U.S. economy and the states and communities in which they do business. Unlike a domestically headquartered bank, with physical branches across the country, it’s difficult for foreign banks to demonstrate their presence and dedication. A big part of the job is to raise awareness with members of Congress, the administration, and the media of the breadth and depth of lending and investment our members make in the United States and the jobs and economic growth that come as a result.
How do you bridge the gap when members have diverging views on a particular issue?
The few times that there were diverging views, I’ve found that open communication works best—get everyone in the same room, or more likely on the same conference call, and talk it out. The foreign banking community is fairly tight-knit, and unity is critical. That also helps us punch above our weight. One of the three prongs of our mission is to collaborate, and those times of collaboration among our largest and smallest members have been the most fruitful.
Outside of IIB, what’s something that you’re passionate about?
When my son was eight, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. During his treatment, our family got involved with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Their work has supported almost $300 million in research grants worldwide to seek better treatments, prevention, and ultimately a cure for pediatric cancers. St. Baldrick’s volunteers shave their heads to raise money and show empathy for children who, like our son, lose their hair during treatment. Every year since his diagnosis, we have sponsored a St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event. We are lucky—our son is cancer-free and embarking on his post-college career. St Baldrick’s is our way to give thanks and help others achieve that same outcome. I’ve gone bald twice and will go for a three-peat this year!