Defining success as a woman in investment banking is about more than titles and salaries

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I am a black woman in her thirties, wife, mother of three daughters, and president of the largest minority-owned investment bank in the country – which is also one of the largest private investment banks in the country.

In many ways, I am an anomaly.

To reach the professional peak at which I am, I followed the path of many of my peers. I got an undergraduate degree, did an internship, did graduate school, made connections, and worked hard.

It was the personal moments and not-so-obvious decisions I made, however, that really helped shape who I am and who I will be.

Faith and family first

I chose to prioritize my faith and my family above all else.

I start and end each day with prayer.

As a mother determined to breastfeed each of her little ones, I’ve hidden dozens of times in airplane toilets to pump out ounces of milk.

Likewise, to make sure I was there for my family, I hopped on red-eye cross-country flights to attend business meetings during the day. I also make sure I get home in time to kiss my little girls (and hubby) goodnight.

This is the life I chose. It’s about regular and consistent prioritization and efficiency.

Success, for me, is not limited to professional titles and impressive salaries.

I worked to become not only 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 mum, I also work to be the dream and the example of my children.

Putting valuable lessons into practice

I started my career in finance at the age of 16 with a summer internship at Loop Capital, the firm of which I currently serve as president. I didn’t know it at the time, but this position has been the foundation of my life as I know it and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity 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 remembered every word of their advice. Although those days go back decades, much of what I learned back then still rings true today.

This includes the following:

  • Integrity is important in life and in business.
  • You are only as good as the people around you.
  • It’s OK to fail, but not OK to never try.
  • Always stay close to earnings.
  • Always perfect your craft, but stretch to seize new opportunities.
  • You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Often the efforts, achievements and opinions of women, especially those in finance, are undervalued. However, there are always exceptions.

I encourage every young woman who dreams of a career in finance and beyond to be the exception. Push everything to the limit. Ask for everything. Does everything. Anything – and anything – is possible if you put in the work, align yourself with good company, and maintain an insatiable appetite for the blessings life has to offer.

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