Thomas Salatte – Nomura Holding America
The culture, food, language, temperature and social norms can vary wildly even across different cities in the United States—so, conducting business throughout the world, in cities such as Tokyo and New York City, has been an exhilarating experience for Thomas Salatte.
In 1995, he joined the Americas legal department at Nomura, a Japanese financial holding company with over 27,000 employees in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. The section of the legal department that he leads negotiates contracts for Nomura’s main financial trading products.
According to Salatte, having a global team is ideal because clients often trade across regions. Before Nomura can start trading with those clients in products—securities, derivatives, futures and foreign exchange, repurchase agreements and securities lending to name a few—the global team drafts and negotiates contracts that make the parties’ rights and obligations clear. The team also addresses a party’s failure to meet obligations, such as not paying or becoming insolvent under those contracts.
Given the global nature of the work, consistency across contracts is imperative and sometimes even required by law, he says. For instance, responding to the global financial crisis beginning in 2007, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and the International Organization of Securities Commissions recommended requirements and standard terms for collateral.
Looking at these suggestions, Salatte and his team created policies and procedures that complied with the Basel Committee requirements while being applicable across multiple jurisdictions. They completed and implemented the new approach in fall of 2022.
“One of the best parts about my role is its global nature, and my goal remains to make sure that our negotiators, regardless of their location, work together as one legal team for Nomura and its clients,” Salatte says.
Collaborations to counter legal complications
Before Salatte accepted his current role, he says work was not as efficient as was sometimes possible—for example, there might have been times when the regions were trying to solve the same issues separately.
By working together, a process Salatte oversaw, the regions not only shared insights and skill, but also shared resources. This way, team members in India, for example, who now assist every region, can combine and prioritize their requirements to save time and costs, he says.
Furthermore, if a negotiator in one region has deep knowledge of a particular agreement or complex issue, they can then train others in different regions. This also means that Nomura has access to knowledge and expertise without hiring local experts.
“Having a global team allows us to identify the skills of each individual, so we can cover all bases,” he says.
To further connect teams spread across the globe, Salatte sets up biweekly on-screen meetings with his regional managers and the chief administrative officer, as well as holding periodic full team “town hall” meetings. He also works directly with individuals and encourages them to take professional development courses at their convenience.
Following a hiatus at the height of the pandemic, he has returned to his regular visits to regions where he will work for short periods of time.
“We do goal setting and check-ins and get as much help as we can from our partners,” Salatte says. “I want each individual to be autonomous and confident while working together on one big team.”
A rainbow of ideas and perspectives
Salatte says he’s obtained some of his skills through launching Nomura’s internal LGBTQI+ network, PRIDE, in the Americas a decade ago. In addition to being an employee resource group, PRIDE, which he now co-leads, has helped Nomura receive a perfect score for three years in a row on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is a leading evaluator of such workplace practices.
Alongside his efforts with PRIDE, he’s also ensuring that posted job descriptions have inclusive language and that jobs postings are reaching LGBTQI+ communities. This includes Nomura’s participation in Out for Undergrad, a career conference for LGBTQI+ identifying undergraduates.
“I make sure there’s a solid link between what we offer and promise as a company in our job descriptions and what we provide employees,” he says. “I feel a particular joy when I—and Nomura—can deliver on our promises, such as through LGBTQI+-focused professional development trainings or health insurance.”
As far as Salatte is concerned, such initiatives help the company as much as employees—and he’s not the only one with that perspective. Nomura was an early member of Out Leadership, a global LGBTQI+ business network of executives, business leaders and multinational companies. Out Leadership has published data that demonstrates the correlation between higher returns on equity and diversity.
“I’m a firm believer in DE&I in the workplace,” Salatte says. “Having access to all communities means the chance to recruit and work with the brightest and most talented people across the globe—something I get to see on a daily basis.”
Success through consistency
As an out gay professional and leader, Salatte wants for his colleagues and hires to feel included and valued. He credits that perspective to his student days at Hamilton College, a liberal arts school that focuses on students interacting closely with one another and with their communities.
After graduating from Hamilton College in 1989, he worked briefly for a major international law firm before returning to academia. In 1993, he graduated from State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law. He credits this experience as the one that prepared him for his later efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion, as the school has a strong focus on social justice and social reforms.
With his law degree in hand, he was hired at a prestigious law firm and, later, a financial services company. Through the course of his career, he also developed strong relationships with those working at Nomura—so, taking on a role there seemed almost inevitable, he says. He has stayed and excelled in no small part because he wanted to have a global career.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting the challenges here and building out platforms,” Salatte says. “If you look at my life, I like tackling complex and novel matters, building deep relationships and preparing for the future, which I think has led to success in my professional life.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.
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