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Incoming Citi CEO Jane Fraser says she’s proof that working part-time isn’t a career killer

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Congresswomen drill CEOs on drug pricing, Hillary Clinton debuts her podcast, and incoming Citi CEO reflects on the most critical moments of her career. Have a powerful Thursday.

– ‘Just relax, chill, take a step back.’ Jane Fraser is set to become the first female CEO of a major U.S. bank in February when she takes the helm of $103 billion Citi. So the advice she offered at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit yesterday might seem counterintuitive: chill.

Fraser, whose appointment to CEO last month broke Wall Street’s stubborn glass ceiling, said that instruction was instrumental earlier in her career when she felt the need to go all-in at home and at work. “I think the best piece of advice I got was: Why am I in such a hurry?” Fraser told me. “I remember one of my mentors saying to me, ‘Jane, you’re going to have several careers in your life, and your careers are going to be measured in decades, so why this sense of rush and trying to have everything at the same time? Just relax, chill, take a step back and enjoy the process more, and enjoy the different phases of your life.’”

For that reason, Fraser chose to work part-time after being named a partner at consulting firm McKinsey, her previous employer. That decision to carve out “precious” time with her kids was critical to her later professional achievements. “I’m so glad I did it,” she said. “I honestly don’t think I would be here today if I hadn’t.”

At the same time, Fraser says she understands the hesitancy that some working parents might feel about taking a step back from work. She hopes her own experience proves that unorthodox or more flexible work arrangements are not career-enders.

“I’m an example that it doesn’t need to sidetrack you from the longer-term goals” she said.

Another crucial career juncture was Fraser’s decision to accept the role of running strategy for Citi at the beginning of the financial crisis. She was initially uncomfortable with idea of taking the job, but heeded a friend’s advice to overcome the fear of failure. From there, Fraser got “hooked on stretch roles,” she said, “because you do learn so much.”

The 2020 MPW Summit will wrap up today with conversations with Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson, IBM executive chairman Ginni Rometty, Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay, and more, including a special remembrance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We’ll have the scoop from Day 3 tomorrow; there are more highlights from Day 2 below.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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