A Women in Finance forum hosted by Bryant University on November 11 brought together recent Bryant alumnae working in the finance field as well as women in high school or attending Bryant for an event designed to help introduce young women to the finance field.
“That's what I think is so great [about Finance] - that you can go into so many different roles.”
Sponsored by Envestnet Institute On Campus, the event provided attendees the opportunity to discover information about the finance field through multiple alumnae panel discussions as well as a Keynote by alumna Eileen Hayes ’07, Vice President, Asset Manager Relationship Management at Envestnet, Inc., says one of the forum’s lead organizers, Mara Derderian, M.B.A., Director of Financial Planning studies and Lecturer of Finance. Attendees also could gain an understanding of the kinds of finance and financial services programs of study offered at Bryant, represented by the four tracks listed in the program: financial planning, investment management, banking and corporate finance.
Breadth of opportunity
The panelists outlined the broad nature of the finance field and the limitless career opportunities it offers, while addressing misconceptions about the industry.
“If you’re a creative person, there are creative roles and hybrid technology roles, too.”
Kaitlin Dickey ’21, a Portfolio Analyst at BNY Mellon, described the broadness of finance for the attendees. “Someone's job could be a chapter in a unit of a class that you took one time. It's very niche. And that's what I think is so great [about Finance] - that you can go into so many different roles.” Dickey is also a former President of the Bryant student organization Smart Women in Finance (SWIF), a club focused on educating minorities about finance careers.
And Finance isn’t just all numbers, said Olivia Lomuscio ’17, Product Manager at Fidelity Investments. “If you’re a creative person, there are creative roles and hybrid technology roles, too, such is in my new job.”
Agreed Denae Pisano ’18, Consultant at Slalom and a former President of SWIF, “You can take this a million different ways, depending on your strengths, what you like, what you don't like.”
“Ask yourself, what's going to give you the skills that you really want to have long term.”
For this reason, alumnae said, women shouldn’t expect career pathways to follow a straight line through this process of discovery.
But be sure to set yourself up for success and plan ahead, said Savannah Miles ’19, Financial Planning Advisor at Morgan Stanley and co-founder of SWIF. “Ask yourself, what's going to give you the skills that you really want to have long term in order to grow into a variety of different roles … and to where you think you'll be a really well-rounded individual coming out of college.”
The panelists agreed that Bryant’s innovative curriculum, strong offerings and career services helped them develop the platform they needed upon entering the work force.
“At Bryant, you have more than enough resources to help you get to that level that you want to be at,” said Sarah DeSantis ’21, a Global Market Analyst at Citizen’s Bank.
Being a self-advocate
Attendees also asked for advice about working in what's known generally as a male-dominated field.
“Just remember, you got that role for a reason. And you deserve to be there.”
“Being a woman in finance,” said Caitlin Wray ’17, Corporate Reporting Manager, Officer, at Citizens Bank, “means you have to know yourself, know your worth and be ready to advocate for yourself.”
“And just remember, you got that role for a reason. And you deserve to be there,” said DeSantis.
“Surrounding yourself with other women and connecting with other women to talk about experiences at work, I think is really important,” said Lomuscio.
Getting to where you’re going
During the last session of the day, alumna Eileen Hayes ’07 delivered a Keynote where she shared advice and her learning experiences from her career so far; she also discussed gender disparity in promotions, raises, and seniority in the industry, as well as cultural beliefs around gender roles that negatively impacts a woman’s belief in building her own wealth.
“A cultural belief is something you can shift and change. And we start with a challenge and turn it into an opportunity and the whole perspective changes.”
“As much as you want to, you can get where you're going in life.”
Companies with women leaders are more profitable, and women make better leaders as rated by their colleagues, said Hayes, citing a 2017 study by Fidelity.
“Some of the strongest qualities that we have as women are that we're deep, we're emotional, we're empathetic, and we're kind. And that's what makes women so strong,” said Hayes.
And the industry is starting to notice, too, she suggested, as she’s seen during her career that began in sales. She is now Vice President, Asset Manager Relationship Management at Envestnet, Inc.
“In seven years I've seen such a shift, from just working with women, to watching women get executive positions to grow, to stay in the company, to move roles. And it is just a drop of the bucket in the industry of what we need to change.”
“Women need to support women, we need to be brave and ask questions—and take a breath,” said Hayes. “And as much as you want to, you can get where you're going in life.”