Flying Broadens Horizons

As the Chief Administrative Officer of a company that manages about $757 billion in assets at 40 locations around the world, Ursula Schliessler is the highest ranking woman at Legg Mason Global Asset Management. She’s also a private pilot.

Schliessler oversees the firm’s technology, human resources, risk management, internal audit, real estate, and funding account departments. With over 25 years in financial services her experience spans product development and maintenance, sales strategy, regulatory, compliance and fiduciary responsibilities, and business process design and implementation.

In addition to global administration oversight, she sits on the Executive Committee and leads the firm’s Compete to Win Initiative, a lean six-sigma efficiency program. She is executive sponsor of the Legg Mason’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group as well as of the firm’s Leadership Academy, a cohort of high-potential diverse talent.

Outside of work, she is a pilot with a passion for aviation and encouraging other women to become private pilots. “Flying helps me maintain perspective. When I am in the air I see the environment around me through a different lens – one that broadens my horizons as every flight brings a new experience,” she said.

Her career advice to other women is “understand what motivates you, pursue your ambitions and seize opportunities when they arise. With determination, willingness to always learn something new, embrace change, hard work and focus you can succeed,” she said.

Schliessler has held several senior positions with Legg Mason or predecessor firms. Most recently, she was Head of Global Distribution Business Management, managing day to day operations and aligning strategy initiatives to support the growth of the company’s retail business.

She’s held roles with a global focus and increasing responsibility at Citibank and Citigroup Asset Management, in Johannesburg, Zurich, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and London. She has also served as Head of International Product Development and Management for Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

She said her biggest career leap was her first move from Citibank Johannesburg to Citibank Switzerland, via Luxembourg, as she was waiting for a Swiss work permit. “Early on in my career this first move taught me to be resourceful, adaptable and confident that I can achieve my objectives by putting my mind to it and seeing challenges, personal and/or professional, as opportunities rather than obstacles,” Schliessler said.

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Economics and a Masters of Commerce degree in Business Economics from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.