Hunton Andrews Kurth: navigating digital finance
Peter Weinstock, Partner, describes the law firm’s close collaboration with Quontic Bank as is it attempts to re-define digital banking.
Originally founded in 1901 as Hunton & Williams and then subsequently rebranded following a 2018 merger with Andrews Kurth Kenyon, Hunton Andrews Kurth is an international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 20 offices spread around the world, including the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. “Approximately 30% of our revenue derives from financial services,” Peter Weinstock, Partner, explains. “We provide services to fintech companies, as well as to what we think of as partner banks and those advancing towards digital transformation. Hunton Andrews Kurth tends to think of these banks as being more like technology companies with banking ‘wrapping around’ them.”
Although he considers his interest to lie with finance first and technology second, it is really the interaction between the two that stokes Weinstock’s passion for digitally-enhanced banking, “I can't think of any aspect of the economy that experiences more change; financial services are such a big part of the economy and they’re forever evolving.” Although change in the legal sector is generally (and necessarily) a slow process, he acknowledges that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for accelerated, unprecedented developments. In this climate, Hunton Andrews Kurth strives to exemplify the same high-quality service it has maintained for over a century. According to Weinstock, this rests on two key pillars: responsiveness to the client’s needs and a creative approach that often ‘reverse engineers’ a particular need and then forms an actionable framework through analysis.
This attitude, in combination with the firm’s far-reaching experience in the industry, has stood it in good stead for helping Quontic Bank as it attempts to re-define digital banking. Working closely together on a daily basis has led to a strong mutual understanding between the two companies, “Part of helping the bank achieve its goals has been to think of Quontic Bank as friends and family,” Weinstock says. “Patrick Sells (CIO at Quontic Bank) has got a lot of energy and ideas. Our job is to help him channel those into the most productive avenues available.”
In an industry which is becoming increasingly digital in its outlook, Quontic Bank, in Weinstock’s view, is on a sure course of not just joining the trend but actually leading it. “It’s pushing the envelope on what's doable from a digital standpoint and what it means to be a digital bank. Hunton Andrews Kurth doesn’t consider that the pace of digital transformation will slow down; we foresee it continuing to accelerate.” The company is proud to be a true partner to Quontic Bank as it pioneers this exciting change and praises the integrity, intelligence and savvy of the executive’s leadership. “They’re wonderful at including us at an early stage,” Weinstock concludes. “In the legal field, it's much more expensive to correct a problem than to avoid it in the first place. Quontic Bank is very wise in that regard: it’s happier spending an ounce on prevention than a pound on cure.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.