Have you faced professional hurdles because you’re a woman?

No, nothing too serious in that regard.

Why are there so few women heading local financial institutions?

I think it might be the performance-versus-potential issue. Middle-management women tend to get promoted on performance, and many middle-management men still on potential. When women get to promotable positions, they tend to drop out of the running and sometimes even the workplace. A great deal of this has to do with expectations of the top job and women’s need to balance the whole work-life thing. Our workplaces just don’t accommodate raising children while working at a very senior level. Women still lack a sufficient number of CEO role models and they hold pretty significant concerns about the 24-7 executive lifestyle. I have instituted flexible work arrangements and support mechanisms to assist in the promotion and success of the women on my leadership team.

What are your responsibilities?

Xceed has assets under management of $900 million, 59,000 members and 14 financial centers in six states. I am responsible for the successful operation. I consider my ability to communicate effectively as my most powerful strategic weapon.

What made you want to work in this industry? I was recruited by a credit union for a teller position. I was fresh out of high school and honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do. Once I started working for credit unions, I never looked back.

Any advice for women going into this industry? Get your education early, before you raise your family. Going back to school when your children are teenagers – as I did – is unnecessarily difficult.

What is the best advice you’ve received?

Don’t ever lose sight that leadership equals sales. Period. It’s all sales, all the time. If you don’t love sales, find another life because you’ll never be a successful CEO.

If I hadn’t gone into finance …

It probably would have been something in the creative realm – maybe music, sports, communications or cooking. I have a lot of diverse interests and believe that people can be a success at whatever they are truly passionate about.

What is your ultimate career goal?

To cultivate, mentor and help launch as many future female CEOs as possible.

What do you do for fun?

Golf – and my favorite golf partner is my husband. Also, our four adult children live in Canada. Spending time with them is critical to a family gal like me, so travel always figures prominently in my plans.

Something your colleagues don’t know about you ... That I love to cook, dig in the garden and can sew just about anything.

TERESA FREEBORN, 56

President and Chief Executive

Xceed Financial Credit Union, El Segundo

RESIDENCE: Palos Verdes Estates

EDUCATION: M.B.A., Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C.

YEARS IN INDUSTRY: 38

YEARS IN POSITION: 5

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