Sandra Nudelman: ‘I like leaving things better than I found them’
A Q&A with Sandra Nudelman, the leader of Wells Fargo Consumer Data and Engagement Platforms — an international team of more than 1,000 employees — who is pioneering data solutions that create better customer experiences.
We talked with Sandra Nudelman, head of Consumer Data and Engagement Platforms for Wells Fargo Consumer & Small Business Banking, to learn how she approaches leadership, her advice for a successful career in data and analytics at Wells Fargo, and why she believes data is the future of the customer experience.
At its heart, Wells Fargo serves customers, whether they are everyday consumers, small businesses, or much larger companies. But today we are predominantly structured by products, and my role is to help knit our businesses together from the customer’s perspective. That starts with data — and having a clear view of each customer relationship — across all products and channels. But data, by itself, isn’t particularly valuable. My team builds the capabilities to turn that data into action. That might be relevant financial health guidance, personalized marketing ads, providing our branch employees with customer insights, or enabling our businesses with the data they need to improve customer experiences.
Does “the best job ever” count as an answer? For the most part, my job entails building new products and responding to the needs of our businesses today, while also thinking about what we will need to serve customers 5-10 years down the road. One of the things I love most about this job is the partnership with Technology. I also love that my job enables me to take a big picture look across all of our consumer lines of businesses and channels. Navigating the complexity of large organizations is something I actually enjoy, and it helps that Wells Fargo’s culture is much friendlier than anywhere I’ve ever worked.
The reward of leading a large team is the scale of impact that you can have. One thing people don’t realize is that as a team gets larger, you actually “manage” a lot less in the day-to-day sense. My real job is to set a clear strategy with measurable objectives, hire amazing talent, and organize them to deliver. After that, I really only need to do three things — trust the team, support them when issues arise, and continue to look ahead to the future for what we should do next.
The biggest challenge of leading a team this size (and dispersed across so many time zones) is that you aren’t able to get to know everyone in your organization personally. While I host town halls in different cities and hold biweekly coffee chats that are open to all employees, it can still be challenging to get the message out. I rely on our extended leadership team (the top ~150 leaders), and the handiwork of our Communications team to communicate and reinforce the innovative and collaborative culture I want to see.
I look for a mix of understanding of our core business, strategic problem-solving, innovation mindset, ability to execute, and also humanity. The last two are actually the hardest to find. Turning ideas into reality is not easy in a company of this size. And you can almost never get anything done alone — so building a team of people who collaborate easily and are empathetic is always a winning strategy.
The ability to build a strong team and operating model.
Having trust in your team to execute.
Addressing issues quickly and decisively.
What may be surprising is that I have a creative side. I do a wide variety of things like make jewelry, sketch, and I even have a green wall for my apartment.
Ellie is an eight-year-old Chihuahua, Jack Russell, and Yorkie mix. She was discovered in a ditch outside a Walmart in Houston at four weeks old, and a vet took her in and nursed her back to health. At eight weeks old, she was placed with a foster family, but the cat was not the nicest to her. I adopted her at 10 weeks, and she’s been living the New York City life ever since. Unlike her behavior on Zoom, she is actually very well trained and knows more than 35 different tricks. Since I had Ellie pre-pandemic, she is used to me going back to the office a few days a week. But I think her preferred outcome would actually be to come to the office with me. She especially wants to meet my bosses, Mary Mack and Kleber Santos, so she can tell them who the real boss is in person.
Lightning round: Without thinking too much, answer these questions.
Usually, my Apple Watch buzzing on my wrist.
I have stopped and started a science fiction novel about the societal repercussions of near-immortality.
Astrophysicist or politician. Maybe both.
I like leaving things better than I found them. Whether that’s a business problem, a friend needing advice, or my sock drawer.
Want to join a company where you can work with people like Sandra? Check out open opportunities on wellsfargojobs.com.