I have the honor of being asked to write a short piece about being a female in the financial services sector and why working in finance has many great opportunities for women.
As a woman, and as a woman of color, there are challenges of course, but there is also opportunity. Part of that opportunity comes from those many, many, many women that paved the way for me to succeed. However, there were four incredibly, like minded, smart and intuitive women that stand out the most who have helped shaped my career path, all who are from different walks of life.
One of these women is my sister, who at a very young age was already espousing the virtues of being fiscally responsible and teaching me the value of dollars and cents. She subsequently went on to graduate high school and college a few years ahead of her peers and is working in finance herself. One of the other women that really stands out is someone who many others thought was a hard nut to crack and labeled “difficult,” back in the day. Her name is Elnoise J. Davis who was at Trust Company of the West (TCW) at the time and I at Bank of New York Mellon along with now my current Manager Doreen Forbes. Elnoise was one of the strongest women I know. To this day I can hear her saying, “Never say I don’t know.” Always do your research and get the answer so you do know. This has been very helpful for me throughout my career and I will never forget her guidance and constant words of wisdom.
Working in finance, leadership consists mostly of men whereas women, especially most times women of color, we have to work even harder to advance our careers, and we often ask why. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we/I can’t work to break barriers, stand out and have our voices heard. It just might take us a little longer to get there and we should be helping each other along the way.
Great female mentorships can play a major role in encouraging one to learn all that you can and provide that guidance that points you in the direction you need and want to be. Being encouraged by a mentor to never say “I can’t do that” and figure how to get it done; and to never take “You can’t do that,” as the end of anything has always stood out with me as some of the best advice for as long as I can remember. Women are in a unique position to help others rise and shouldn’t take that for granted. Be a mentor to your female colleagues it will mean more than you likely will ever know. Much like those four incredible women who took me under their wings.
My love for working in finance and the many opportunities it has for women, is because finance is more than just adding 1, 2, 3, so many different aspects of it, it fascinates me and fascinates those around us. As one of my Economics Professors once said “It’s what makes the world go round.” But keep in mind, it’s also a place for women to learn, grow and succeed if given the opportunity.
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Senior Financial Analyst