Q: Describe your company and what you do.
A: I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years. For the past 16 years I’ve been with Calamos Wealth Management
where I’ve helped high net worth clients reach their lifelong goals through financial planning and investment management. In addition, I oversee a team that includes advisors, marketing, operations and planning to ensure the client experience runs smoothly.
Q: What is your background and what led you to your organization?
A: I have an undergraduate degree in Economics and Graduate degree in Finance. My work background has all been with client relationship management and some product management as well. The part of my job that I love the most? Leadership.
Q: What would you like to change about the finance industry?
A: Finance as a career for women: as an industry, we need to do a better job talking to young women who are in the midst of choosing a career path. We are too focused on numbers, statistics, performance – and not enough on describing what an investment advisor truly does: helping others fulfill lifelong goals. We are intimately involved with clients who are at critical transition points in their lives (retirement; paying for college; selling their business; divorce; widowhood). This requires empathy; patience; strong communication skills; relationship building – traits that come naturally to most women. Of course the numbers are important but a career in financial services – especially as an investment advisor on the front lines – is so much more. We haven’t described these aspects of the career to women in college (or even younger). As a female leader in this industry, I feel it is my responsibility to get out into the community and reframe the discussion about what a career in financial services really means. Along with this, I also spearhead our Women & Wealth initiative. Its focus is on encouraging our female clients to take a more active role in their financial lives. Too often nowadays, we see women of all types (working, not-working, wealthy/not wealthy) outsource their financial security to someone else – mainly their spouse. This can have extremely negative and sometimes tragic consequences if they don’t change their mindset. There is a lot of work to be done. And oftentimes I feel I am at the base of a steep mountain looking up….but the other way to look at it? Opportunity.
Q: What gets you excited about your work?
A: Many things but mainly it’s about helping people (both employees and clients). Working with and developing employees, helping them find out what makes them tick, and helping them reach their own goals. More recently – talking to other women in leadership and learning how they can use their roles to positively impact other women in the industry Women’s Initiative Network (WIN): I started this group over 2 years ago at Calamos. The objective is to create an open forum and safe space for women to talk about topics such as professional development; communication; navigating the environment in a male dominated industry; and also to encourage interaction between different women from different departments and different tenures within the industry. We all learn from each other – regardless of our rank or seniority. I only wish that there was something like this in existence when I started in this field over 25 years ago. I am now at a place in my career where I feel I can mentor and coach younger women who will one day be even better and stronger than me! The best moments of the WIN group are when the women come to me and say they used a strategy they learned during one of our sessions; or that they met someone in the group who they truly connected with. Or that they simply learned more about themselves. If nothing else, it’s a great female employee retention tool. It’s very personal to me as it is an entirely grass roots effort – driven by me and the women involved.
Q: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?
A: Confidence is not something we are necessarily born with but it is something that can be developed.
Q: What advice would you give for other women in business?
A: Two things: First, use your voice. Never be silent at the table because you always have more to offer than you think you do. And second, get out of your comfort zone. Constantly push your boundaries so that you can continue to grow!
Q: Tell us one thing most people don't know about you.
A: I have self-doubt (but I get over it!).
Q: If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do?
A: I don’t live with a lot of regrets. I feel that everything I’ve done in life – both the right things and the wrong things - brought me to where I am today.
Q:What keeps you up at night?
A: Disappointing people.
Headshots courtesy of Megan Drane, Firefly Nights Photography.