Why one of the world’s few female bank CEOs decided to step down

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Louisville will pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million, Michelle Wu runs for mayor in Boston, and a former bank CEO gets a new gig. Have a reflective Wednesday.

– Moving on. The exuberance at Citigroup’s appointment of Jane Fraser as CEO last week underscored how few female leaders are in the banking industry globally. Fraser, of course, will become the first woman chief executive of a big Wall Street bank in February.

Rakefet Russak-Aminoach was one of the sector’s rare female CEOs until June 2019 when she stepped down as CEO of Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank by market cap. She’s credited with turning the bank around, leading it to record profitability and market cap and launching its fully-mobile digital bank called Pepper in 2017.

During her seven-year tenure at Leumi, Russak-Aminoach was approached about jobs at European banks and a financial company in New York. But when I talked to her earlier this month, it wasn’t to discuss a new bank CEO gig but instead to learn about Russak-Aminoach’s new role at venture firm Team8, where she’ll lead a new fintech division.

Why did she decide to give up the prestige of being a bank CEO to join a firm that’s just six years old? Russak-Aminoach told me that by working with Pepper, she’d caught the startup bug. “The passion and excitement of building a new thing from scratch is unbelievable to me,” she said. “Starting a new thing and making it really huge is something I’ve never done.”

What’s more, she argues that a good leader knows when to move on. No chief executive “should sit in their chair for dozens of years,” she says.

Claire Zillman
[email protected]
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.