Finance

Executive Perspectives: Elaine Agather

Necessity is a great teacher, says the Dallas region chair of JPMorgan Chase.

Elaine Agather got into the banking industry in 1979 and worked in London, San Francisco, and New York before locating to Dallas in 1984. After a series of promotions and bank mergers, she was elected regional chairman and CEO in 1999. She’s actively involved in community organizations in both Dallas and Fort Worth. 

Have you found silver linings in these difficult times?  

I see a lot of silver linings. I have leaned on and embraced the incredible technology our company has to offer. It’s so impressive. Necessity is a great teacher. Technology has forced me to be more creative and explore all that we can do online. It is such a gift to be able to work and be productive. Idle is tough right now. We are in the client service business, and it is very rewarding to be able to help your clients in difficult times. That is the real silver lining.      

Did your business continuity plan work, or were there surprises? 

It is working remarkably well. We are, to a person, productive. We are focused on our clients.  

How are you maintaining your company culture? 

Our teams across the country are bonding in new ways. We are having video chats twice a day to stay connected. With this new style of virtual social engagement, we see each other’s home offices. Sometimes we see our coworkers’ kids or their pets. You feel like you know one another a little better, and that builds trust.  

What advice do you have for other business leaders?  

Sometimes leadership is about what you do more than what you say. Your people have to be able to see you and sense your urgency. Your energy has to come through that videoconferencing screen. It’s critical. They have to see you are dressed for work and ready for action. The advice I offer right now is, don’t just email. This is the time to pick up the phone and connect. Our clients want to know what J.P. Morgan knows.  

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