Op-ed: Defining success as a woman in investment banking is more than just titles and salaries

I’m a black woman in my thirties, wife, mother of three, and president of the country’s largest minority investment bank – which is also one of the largest private investment banks in the country.

In many ways, I am an anomaly.

In order to reach the professional height at which I find myself, I have followed the path of many of my colleagues. I got a bachelor’s degree, did an internship, went to graduate school, made relationships, and worked hard.

However, it is the not-so-obvious personal moments and decisions I made that have really contributed to who I am and who I will be.

Faith and family first

I have chosen to prioritize my faith and my family above all else.

I start and finish every day in prayer.

As a mom determined to breastfeed each of her little ones, I’ve hid dozens of times in airplane baths to pump ounces of milk.

To make sure I was there for my family, I also went on red-eye overland flights to attend business meetings during the day. I also make sure I got home in time to kiss my little girl (and husband) good night.

This is the life I chose. It is a regular and consistent prioritization and efficiency.

For me, success is not limited to professional titles and impressive salaries.

I’ve worked to not only become a financier’s dream, but also the dream of young girls like me who grew up in small towns in the Midwest.

Now, with three young women who look up to me every day and call me mom, I am working to be my children’s dream and role model.

Put valuable lessons into work

I began my career in finance at the age of 16 with a summer internship at Loop Capital, the company I currently serve as president. I didn’t know then, but this position was the foundation of my life as I know it and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.

As a teenager, I sat next to men and women who had spent their careers perfecting the art of negotiation and quick thinking. I learned their habits and stuck to every word of their advice. Although those days were decades ago, much of what I learned then still sounds true today.

This includes the following:

  • Integrity is important in life and business.
  • You are only as good as the people around you.
  • It’s okay to fail, but not okay to never try.
  • Always stay close to sales.
  • Always improve your craft, but reach out to explore new opportunities.
  • They have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Often, women’s efforts, achievements and opinions, especially in finance, are undervalued. However, there are always exceptions.

I encourage any young woman who dreams of a career in finance and beyond to be the exception. Push everything to the limit. Ask about anything. Do it all. Anything – and anything – is possible when you get the job done, align yourself in good company, and have an insatiable appetite for the blessings that life has to offer.

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