Elizabeth Fonger, FCRH ’17, Lauren Kelly, GSB ’18, and Lorem Basile, GSB ’18, faced a last-minute dilemma.
Should the three women from Fordham University’s Smart Woman Securities organization wear headbands from the apparel company whose stock they would be pitching in a few minutes? Or not? It was not a frivolous debate. The question was whether the accessory would help to brand their presentation or be overkill.
With their Lululemon headbands in hand, the three trotted off to find a mirror. When they came back, the answer was clear: No go. They were convinced it was the right call, and it was hard to argue with the results.
They pitched sans bands, and on the strength of their research, presentation and demeanor, the three won second place in the SWS Stock-Picking Competition held in Boston on Dec. 4.
Fonger, Kelly and Basile were one of two SWS teams from Fordham at the competition, held at Fidelity Investments. The team of Jennifer Dunn, Jenna Florendo and Emilie Frangione, all GSB ’19, also competed, pitching American Airlines.
The competition was broken into two rounds. During the first round, all teams pitched to three groups of Fidelity analysts. Out of the nine teams presenting, three finalists were chosen. The team of Fonger, Kelly and Basile were joined in the finals by teams from Columbia University and Harvard University. Harvard was the only team to best the Fordham students. Other teams included students from schools such as the University of California – Berkeley, University of Virginia and University of Chicago.
While the competition was intense, the students were urged by SWS Executive Director Darla Jade to take time to network with each other and ask questions of the Fidelity analysts and portfolio managers who took part in the event.
“This is the group that eventually when you all graduate and you all have your internships, you’re going to be connecting with each other,” Jade told the women. The purpose of SWS, a national organization with 21 chapters, is to build the financial expertise of young women and provide them with opportunities to succeed.
Taking Jade’s advice, the women gathered in small and large groups throughout the day, talking and exchanging information.
Those types of exchanges were critical, Jade and others said.
As women in finance, they were going to face uncomfortable situations in the future, said Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager who spoke with the SWS students.
Embrace the discomfort, Persaud said, and embrace being on the outside looking in. Use that perspective to your advantage when faced with the old boys club, she said. And, above all, be excellent at what you do.
“In investing,” Persaud said, “experience means nothing if performance is poor.”