Charles Aris VP Ashlee Wagner recently talked shop with Céline Dufétel, COO & CFO at global investment management firm T. Rowe Price.
Dufétel is a member of the company’s Management Committee. Her responsibilities include global oversight for Finance, Investor Relations, Strategy, M&A, Risk, Operations, Technology, Enterprise Change and Corporate Real Estate. She also serves on the firm’s Management Compensation & Development Committee, the Investment Management Steering Committee, and the Product Steering Committee. She chairs the organization’s Risk & Operations Steering Committee.
Dufétel joined T. Rowe Price in 2017. She previously was managing director and global head of marketing, product management and client services at investment management firm Neuberger Berman, and prior to that was a partner and head of the North American Asset Management practice at McKinsey & Company.
Dufétel was named among Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance in 2021 and among Fortune’s 40 Under 40 in 2020.
A native of France, Dufétel earned bachelor's and master's degrees in applied mathematics and economics from École Polytechnique in Paris and a master's degree in finance at Princeton University.
What are the top three responsibilities occupying your time in your role today?
As the COO and CFO, a large part of my role is building strong teams. It means assessing the firm’s needs and providing my leaders with the right support to enable their and their teams’ success.
In partnership with the Management Committee, I also work to shape the firm’s strategy and ensure our investments align against it. We are in a dynamic industry in a period of significant disruption, which requires a clear plan on how we maintain our position as a premier asset manager including anticipating future trends and innovating to stay ahead of these.
As I take on the additional responsibilities of COO, my role will also include furthering the role of technology and operations as strategic enablers for the firm.
For people interested in a similar career path to yours, which skills and competencies are most important for success? When hiring for your team, what are the two or three competencies you seek?
When looking at potential candidates, we examine equally “what” unique skills and perspectives candidates bring to bear as well as “how” they approach their work. Great problem solving, clear communication and high-quality execution are equally as important as being collaborative, demonstrating humility and operating with transparency.
I also believe that underpinning all success is simply hard work, perseverance and optimism.
What’s the best career development advice you’ve ever received?
When choosing jobs, the best advice I have is to think about the job you want three jobs from now – not necessarily what is most appealing now. What roles will offer experiences that will broaden your skills and better position you for those future roles? This could mean taking a role that isn’t your favorite – it might not be the most exciting or the highest paying – but more importantly, it might be a better building block for your long-term aspirations.
Which impactful life event has most driven success in your career?
My most important career lessons started with my father. He believed that, in life, there are never problems – only opportunities. He taught me to see the opportunity in any presented problem. He also taught me that leaders never stop learning, and great leadership comes from taking the time to understand one’s opportunities for growth and improvement, work on them, and build teams that complement individual talents and strengths.
What do you miss the most from your time in consulting?
McKinsey was a very formative part of my career. I developed skills which have been instrumental in my development, and I left with an incredibly strong network of mentors and friends which I stay very close to.
What’s the last podcast you listened to?
Right now, I am listening to “How Leaders Lead” with David Novak. It is an interesting look into how leaders in a variety of roles get things done. Good leaders never stop learning, and this podcast offers the opportunity to gain perspectives from some of the best.