EBRD Director named one of Poland’s top 10 women in finance

By Axel  Reiserer

EBRD Director named one of Poland’s top 10 women in finance

“Recognition for EBRD’s long-term work in the country,” says Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska

Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska, EBRD Director for EU Banks in the Financial Institutions Group, has been named one of Poland’s top 10 women in finance.

“This is a great honour for me personally, but more than anything recognition of the EBRD’s long-term work in the country,” Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska said.

The leading 10 women in finance in Poland were identified in a two-stage process. Organised by the initiative “Znane Ekspertki” in cooperation with the Institute of Innovative Economy in Warsaw and the Polish Banking Association, the poll asked Polish companies to submit their nominations.  Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska won more nominations than any other candidate.

Subsequently, an experts’ panel including Marek Belka, Governor of the National Bank of Poland, ex-Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and former Minister of Finance Jan Vincent-Rostowski chose the 10 winners.

Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska was not the only successful candidate with an EBRD background. The top 10 also include Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, currently Mayor of Warsaw and previously Vice President at the EBRD, and Małgorzata Kołakowska, who was EBRD Director, Poland, before she went on to become CEO of ING Bank Śląski S.A, one of the country’s leading banks.

Finally, there is scientific and statistical evidence why the Polish banking sector was able to withstand the global financial crisis in much better shape than its peers. 

When the crisis hit Central and Eastern Europe in 2008, Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska had just been appointed EBRD Director, Poland, in Warsaw.

“After years of rapid growth the region was suddenly confronted with a perfect storm, when the internal and external environment deteriorated rapidly,” she recalled.

“The EBRD was able to put together a crisis response package which combined much needed funding with a coordinated approach to tackle the underlying causes of the crisis. During that period the EBRD business volume in Poland reached a peak level of nearly €1 billion per year.”

This work continues as the countries of the region take steps to build and strengthen local equity and debt capital markets. While Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska was running the Bank’s operations in Warsaw, the EBRD was particularly active in this sector and developed new products which were either not yet available on the market or tailor-made for the needs of Polish companies.

Besides, the EBRD over the years became a leading and successful equity investor in the country. To date, the Bank has invested €7.6 billion in 359 projects in all sectors of the Polish economy.

Ms Stańczak-Wuczyńska graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics and the Collège d'Europe in Bruges. Before joining the EBRD in 2000 she worked for IBP Bank S.A., Calyon and ABN AMRO.

After her period as Director for Poland she was appointed to her current position in London in 2014. She has joined a growing number of women in senior positions at the Bank.

This is an area where Poland, despite of all reform efforts, clearly lags behind.  Women’s representation on the board and in institutions of the Polish financial sector stands at only 16.8 per cent and only 9.7 per cent of all CEOs are women, according to a report by “Znane Ekspertki”.

Although women represent the majority of staff in the Polish financial sector with 60.9 per cent, they hold only 43.7 per cent of executive positions.

For women especially, it remains lonely at the top. The higher the position in the corporate structure, the smaller the number of women.

“Our research shows that the sector is dominated by the male perspective”, said project initiator Joanna Pruszyńska-Witkowska.

“However, studies by McKinsey or the IMF have shown that banks with more than 20 per cent of female representation on their boards performed much better during the economic crisis.”

Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska added: “This is a wake-up call. If banks don’t open up to women at the top managerial level, they will lose a huge reservoir of talent as women will seek careers in different sectors of the economy.”

The 10 most influential women in Poland’s financial sector (in alphabetical order)

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of the City of Warsaw

Danuta Hübner, MP of the European Parliament

Lidia Jabłonowska-Luba, Deputy President, mBank S.A.

Małgorzata Kołakowska, President, ING Bank Śląski S.A.

Izabela Leszczyna, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Finance

Małgorzata O'Shaughnessy, Managing Director for Central Eastern Europe, VISA Europe

Iwona Sroka, President of the Management Board, KDPW S.A.

Lucyna Stańczak-Wuczyńska, EBRD Director, Financial Institutions

Katarzyna Zajdel-Kurowska, NBP’s Management Board member

Helene Zaleski, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Alior Bank S.A.