Diane Vieira: An Astute Leader Empowering Women to Take the Plunge

Diane Vieira | Managing Director of Communications & Marketing | SVB Leerink
Diane Vieira | Managing Director of Communications & Marketing | SVB Leerink

It is believed that leadership is a skill one must be born with, but Diane Vieira believes that it can be learned from experiences, mentoring, and failures. Currently, Diane is the Managing Director of Communications & Marketing at SVB Leerink, a leading investment bank specializing in healthcare and life sciences. She has learned that if an individual does not push his or her limits and risk failure, one can never learn new capabilities.

Throughout her professional career, Diane has regularly been presented with challenges that have required her to rise to another level, to test herself and improve in the process. These challenges revealed that she was capable of accomplishing things that seemed unmanageable or even impossible and, in the end, transformed her into an effective leader.

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”
Thomas Jefferson

Let us discover some valuable insights from her entrepreneurial journey through the following exclusive interview with CIO Look:

Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.

Without a doubt, one of the most impactful women in my professional career was Christine Todd, President of an investment management firm that I was employed at early on in my career. She was a master of insightful inquiry and sparing advice. She gave me the confidence to identify strategies for success and empowered me to present my opinions with assertion and levelheadedness.

Not only did she guide me to successfully navigate a male-dominated industry, but her mentorship extended beyond my career to include discussions about behavior, values, relationships, parenting, etc. Mentoring beyond the workplace takes more effort, more time, and more thought. I truly believe her holistic approach more effectively helped me achieve my true potential.

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship, and mentoring others?

The best lesson I have learned throughout my career is that success isn’t singular. Many times, being successful requires surrounding oneself with very smart people who we can study and seek to emulate.

A good mentor does not just tell you how to do your specific job better. In fact, the best mentors in my career have given me advice about the bigger aspects of business–how to build trust, focus on the bigger picture, and do the right thing.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about women in the workplace?

Women are changing the game in every industry. We are born problem solvers and leaders, highly analytical, with a great ability to multitask. When we feel empowered and supported in the workplace, the sky’s the limit.

Important to note, leadership is not concentrated to specific positions. Leadership requires focus and effort and does not happen by title.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

Wait…there is a balance? Kidding.

Anyone in a demanding, highly stressful career will admit that maintaining a work-life balance is one of the most difficult elements of the job. The key is in understanding that everyone’s strategy for achieving a balance needs to be unique and customized for their lifestyle. My approach involves avoiding “meeting creep”, mastering the art of delegation, and most importantly, learning from my mistakes.

I try to be as efficient as possible with my time – workout during my lunch break; take a call in the car on the way to pick up my son from school, etc. But inevitably, there just are not enough hours in the day. Slowly, almost without me noticing, meetings started to begin earlier in the day and go later into the afternoon or evening.

I had to make a conscience decision to avoid what I coined “meeting creep” and try to limit meetings to the regular workday. This allowed me to prioritize the time I was spending outside of the office and be truly present in the moment.

Another key element is to surround myself with a remarkable group of individuals who I have full confidence to delegate responsibilities to. This has allowed me to focus on strategic priorities that I cannot delegate, and at the same time, it empowers my team to take on additional responsibility and be more engaged in their roles.

Lastly, I try not to make the same mistake twice. There was a time in my career where everything else came second and I did not have a healthy work-life balance. The secret is to sense when that lack of balance is on the brink and slowly pulling back until I have re-established a suitable balance once again.

What would you tell young women who are just starting to work? What would you like them to know?

Many young women are unaware that they can achieve an interesting, fulfilling, and lucrative career in a male dominated industry, such as finance.

My advice for young women looking to succeed in the finance industry is simple – never let someone take an opportunity away from you that you have worked hard for. Many times, women struggle with uncertainty, centering around whether they deserve a promotion or if their work adds value. Confidence is an attribute that can either hinder a person’s growth or help them succeed; finding the right balance is key.

What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?

As I look towards the future personally, one constant when it comes to my career goals is to always commit myself fully to the job at hand. I made a decision early in my career that I wouldn’t look too far ahead, instead I would focus my attention on adding as much value as possible in the role that I had been hired to do; this approach has served me well for almost two decades.