Appreciation of teamwork powers head of CLO strategy and innovation’s success

March 28, 2024
Woman seated at a table
Leslie DeRoss, head of collateralized loan obligation strategy and innovation, is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This Women’s History Month, U.S. Bank is celebrating trailblazing women like Leslie DeRoss, head of collateralized loan obligation strategy and innovation

As a former Division I women’s college soccer player, Leslie DeRoss knows the value of teamwork firsthand.

“I can’t say enough about the lessons you learn from team sports that you can apply to life and your career,” said DeRoss, who today is head of collateralized loan obligation (CLO) strategy and innovation at U.S. Bank. “Every single person on the team has different strengths, so you have to be very strategic in determining who plays what position in order to reach your goals.”

DeRoss’s ability to help bring the right mix of talents to a team has been critical to several of the initiatives she spearheaded that helped enhance the corporate trust client experience at U.S. Bank. Those projects included starting a loan agency operations team to benefit CLO clients, creating the ability to provide immediate wire payments for corporate trust clients in specific scenarios and exploring how blockchain may affect the global corporate trust and custody business and its customers.

“I really enjoy looking at an opportunity and figuring out, how are we going to make this work? How does this fit within our strategy? Who are the people we need to make this happen?” she said.

DeRoss is uniquely positioned to know how to make new ideas work in the CLO space, having spent much of her career in operations management roles that were also client facing, she said.

That gave her the technical expertise along with “the ability to learn firsthand what our clients are seeing and hear directly what their needs are,” she said.

Her ability to assemble a strong team applies more broadly to her approach to her own career. Her go-to advice for people starting on their path: build a robust network, and don’t be afraid to tell your manager what your goals are.

“I’ve been really fortunate in my time at the bank to have had several female mentors,” she said. “I can’t say enough how important it is to create and maintain a strong network, particularly of other women, depending on the industry you are in.”

The CLO world tends to be male dominated, DeRoss said, and she’s cultivated a strong network of women -- including colleagues, competitors and clients -- to help guide her career. They meet periodically in person to share advice and support. 

DeRoss said she’s always built her network inside and outside of the bank in other ways. In 2022, she completed a McKinsey & Company executive leadership program, and early in her career at U.S. Bank was selected for the prestigious U.S. Bank Dynamic Dozen.

The reverse mentoring program, established by former CEO Richard Davis, was created to elevate the voice of younger employees and help the bank connect with the next generation of employees and consumers.

Although DeRoss attended the University of North Carolina-Charlotte on a full-ride soccer scholarship, she said soccer success didn’t come easy to her.

“There was a lot of hard work and adversity along the way,” said DeRoss, who was recruited as an outside midfielder but was versatile enough to play every position except goalkeeper because, she joked, she wasn’t “acrobatic” enough. “I developed a work ethic that I keep until this day – I’m not afraid to dig in and really get into the weeds.” 

DeRoss’ soccer playing days may be mostly behind her, but she’s happy to oblige if either of her two young daughters ever shows an interest in following in her footsteps.

“My knees prevent me from playing anymore,” she said. “But if either of my daughters decides they want to play, I could see some coaching in my future.”  

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