Gina Luna ’95, chairwoman of Chase bank’s Houston regional banking office and CEO of middle-market banking, packs power and decisiveness within her calm, confident demeanor. She exudes optimism, and she drives her employees with the strategic leadership style she’s developed throughout her career with Chase.
In a recent lecture to Mays Business School students, Luna offered guidance on effective business leadership tactics, as well as practical advice regarding students entering the workforce.
“Good leaders should work themselves out of a job,” Gina Luna ’95 told Mays students. “I want to be able to walk away knowing that the people under me are fully capable of handling things without me.”
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Luna graduated from Texas A&M with a double major in management and finance. She began her career with JPMorgan Chase directly following her graduation, and has worked her way up to the position she holds currently. As CEO of middle market banking, Luna works with hundreds of companies that have revenues between $20 million and $500 million.
Working with so many clients, Luna has developed shrewd management skills. She says she approaches each day with the same mindset: “I work for my team, rather than have my team work for me.”
Working for the team means empowering her employees to do the job well, she says. “Good leaders should work themselves out of a job. I want to be able to walk away knowing that the people under me are fully capable of handling things without me.”
Luna’s leadership style is heavily influenced by Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s popular “11 attributes for a successful leader.” She shared her perspective of these attributes with Mays students.
- DisciplineÂ -Â Be systematic and predictable in your decision making process.
- FortitudeÂ -Â Be willing to do the hard stuff. Own the problem at hand and find a way to solve it. “You have to get in the weeds,” Luna says. “No leader will be able to solve the problem flying at 60,000 feet.”
- StandardsÂ -Â Recruit people who have already set high standards for themselves.
- Face the factsÂ -Â Be honest. “We want to engender trust,” Luna emphasizes, adding, “The banking industry has gotten a black eye in that area recently.”
- Openness -Â Share the information and make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Set things up for successÂ -Â Success starts with how you structure your company and design business processes.
- Loyalty, meritocracy and teamworkÂ -Â You’re not going to last at a company if you can’t work well with people.
- MoraleÂ -Â Be a morale builder. Remove obstacles in your team’s way and gain their trust.
- RespectÂ -Â Treat people right. Employees deserve honest feedback. Tell them why they’re getting certain results and equip them with the knowledge they need to succeed.
- Reward people fairlyÂ -Â Recognize people for their efforts as well as their performance. “Understand that some employees want their name displayed in lights at a meeting, and others just want a phone call saying that you noticed their hard work,” Luna adds.
- Show real humanity – Have a heart for people. In every case, Luna says that her role is to “help that person preserve their dignity.”
Aside from these attributes, Luna says the greatest skill to have in any leadership position is emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness. “You have to have a realistic perception of your abilities,” she says. “You always know when someone isn’t self-aware when they’re not empowering those around or under them. They’re doing it all themselves.”
When asked how she juggles a demanding job, two active boys (ages five and nine), regular marathon training and community involvement, Luna says it’s important to remind herself that she chooses and wants to do all these things. “I can’t victimize myself and live with the “I have to do this and I have to do that’ mindset.” She also emphasizes that it’s important to prioritize well. “I never miss a little league game,” Luna says.
Gina Luna’s notable career is a testament to the positive drive, leadership and personality she brings to the job. She credits A&M for equipping her with beneficial knowledge and experience, as well as the network she needs to flourish. “I didn’t appreciate or understand what the Aggie relationship meant as a student,” Luna says. “That relationship spans years and career roles, so leverage those connections in a productive way.”