Invest in yourself.
That was the slogan of the 2013 Women in Leadership Conference, held by Fordham’s chapter of Smart Woman Securities. The accomplished women who spoke at the conference undoubtedly had.
Patricia David (GSB ’81), J.P. Morgan’s global head of diversity and the first speaker, said you can’t invest properly in yourself unless you find the right environment. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, get out of that room!” she exhorted.
Ms. David also recommended formulating a future plan. To the mostly female audience, she argued that women tend to make a plan for everything else in their existences, but often forget themselves. Put yourself on your to-do list, she advised.
The conference’s mid-day section included a wide variety of guests, from Taylor Ritzel, founder of Yale’s SWS chapter and an Olympic gold medalist, to Ellen Hancock (GSAS ’67), the former chief technology officer at Apple, who spoke about what it was really like to work alongside Steve Jobs.
Catherine Keating, head of investment management for the Americas at J.P. Morgan, concluded the day.
Ms. Keating’s way into J.P. Morgan’s investment management division was not the traditional route many businesswomen take to get to Wall Street. She studied in the liberal arts college at Villanova University for her undergraduate degree and then attended law school at the University of Virginia.
“Your career is really a journey,” Ms. Keating said. “They tell you it’s like climbing a ladder, but it’s actually a jungle gym. You swing from one opportunity to another.”
How did she swing to Wall Street from her job as a partner at a successful law firm? The answer may have shocked some students in the room.
When Ms. Keating was offered the J.P. Morgan job, it was a relatively small company. What enticed her — strangely to us, given what we know about J.P. Morgan today — was the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.
“They came to me and said, ‘We want to build a business,’” she recalled. “I knew J.P. Morgan would be successful, and the question was, do I want to be a part of it or watch someone else start it up?”
Ms. Keating provided excellent advice for students looking for an auspicious start to their own careers. What puts a spring in your step when you wake up in the morning? Whatever it is, find a job in that area. She advocated having an explorer’s outlook on this process: Remain curious and explore various interests.
Several of Ms. Keating’s comments pointed to the fact that the Gabelli School is setting up its students for success in the workplace. She said, for example, that not every J.P. Morgan employee arrives at the company as prepared as he or she needs to be for the team-driven environment. But because the Gabelli School curriculum includes scores of team-based projects, our graduates are fluent in the practice of working with others.
Perhaps more than a few of them will end up working with her.