Patty Juarez planned on being an accountant at a major firm, but her passion for helping minority entrepreneurs has resulted in a slightly different endpoint. As the highest- ranking Latina in Wells Fargo’s 268,000-person organization, she oversees diverse segments for commercial banking.
Juarez joined Wells Fargo right after graduating from Haas, initially in commercial banking. “I got to meet some Hispanic business owners, and then they would refer me to their brother and their cousin, to the point where I’d made a name for myself in that business community,” she says. Growing that portfolio over the years, rounding out her banking skills, and progressing up the management ladder led to what Juarez calls her “Shark Tank” moment in 2016.
“Ten years ago, a little over a quarter of businesses nationwide were owned by a minority, but that is rapidly changing,” she explains. “I thought, what if we had a really great strategy around growing women- and diverseowned companies? Wells Fargo could be part of their growth and success.” Juarez compiled a business case to present to the head of commercial banking, and the diverse segments group was born.
Juarez’s team now includes those who oversee outreach to women, Hispanic and Latino, Asian, Native American, and Black business owners across the nation, bringing specialized knowledge and cultural competency to relationship building. “I’m particularly proud of how long many of our diverse clients stay with us,” she says, mentioning that she still talks regularly with clients she first met in the ’90s. “It means we’ve built a rewarding relationship where clients are getting what they need.”