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Success, stress, job readiness in financial services

Three female financial services leaders shared their experiences of rising to the top of their industries at a panel discussion Tuesday night as part of Northeastern’s Women who Inspire Speaker Series.

The panel—which focused on the theme of finance and private equity—comprised Mary Deatherage, managing director of private wealth management and a private wealth adviser at Morgan Stanley; Fran Janis, MBA’82, founding partner of Pomona Capital; and Rachel Tyler, DMSB’90, senior vice president at Fidelity. Mike Sanders, executive director of the Potomac Research Group, moderated the discussion.

During the hour-long discussion, the panelists touched upon a number of areas within the finance and investment realms, as well as leadership style and the power of co-op.

Women Who Inspire: Finance & Private Equity

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

A shift toward reengaging lost talent

When Tyler first joined Fidelity 19 years ago, she said it was clearly a male-dominated industry. Today, she has seen a shift toward more females working in financial services, in part because companies are making efforts to reengage those who left the industry to start a family.

“It’s a hard choice balancing out having a family and putting your career on hold,” Tyler said. “That’s a lot of great talent that has left the industry. You do need the balance between men and women in the industry. There are strengths on both sides. But I do think there is a shift of how do we connect with those who have left.”

Greatest challenge

For Deatherage, the greatest challenge she faced as a wealth manager was when cash froze prior to the Great Recession beginning in December 2007. She said that being unable to tell clients why they couldn’t have a dollar for a dollar they deposited was the single biggest crisis she’s dealt with.

“Messaging about crisis is very important,” Deatherage said. “The most stress I have ever been in is telling people they couldn’t get their cash. You just have to learn to make sure the person you are messaging to knows you are on the same side of the table.”

Power of co-op

All three panelists praised Northeastern’s signature co-op program, the cornerstone of the university’s experiential learning model. Tyler recalled how she discovered her passion for financial services while on co-op at State Street. Now, Deatherage has just hired her first co-op. She said this real-world work experience really gives Northeastern students a leg up.

“It’s really important to get up every day and be happy doing what you are doing,” added Janis. “The great thing about Northeastern and the co-op program is you get to try a lot of different things so you might be able to figure it out early.”

The Women who Inspire Speaker Series was launched two years ago to provide direct access to industry professionals, encourage networking, and inspire the next generation of female thought leaders.

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