“There has never been a better time for women to go into financial services,” Cheryl Nash, President of Investment Services at Fiserv, declared during her keynote address at Alumni Engagement Day's Women in Finance forum. The forum brought together a wide range of professionals, including some of Bryant's most successful alumnae, and gave them a venue to share advice about paths to success.
“When you bring women to the table, and let them be heard, you make more money.”
Their message resonated with students. “The stories they told and the advice they gave was really inspirational,” says Rachel Shaw ’18. “Events like today’s panel show students like me how accessible the alumni are and how much they truly want to help them out.”
Building a better industry
In her keynote, Nash outlined the case for inclusion in the workplace, as well as steps companies can take to build a better talent pipeline. “Diversity and inclusion, having both men and women in executive level positions, is a clear link to success,” she said, citing a range of sources including a Peterson Institute report that found that 30 percent female representation on boards can increase company profits by 6 percent, as well as a case study that showed that more diverse teams make better decisions 87 percent of the time.
Building a more diverse culture, however, takes work. “What we really need to do is walk the walk as well as talk the talk,” Nash observed, suggesting it requires a conscious and continuous effort to provide a truly welcoming and enriching atmosphere. “My goal is that one day we won’t need to have an International Women’s Day or an International Equal Pay Day,” she said. “Equality should just be a matter of fact.”
"Events like today’s panel show students like me how accessible the alumni are and how much they truly want to help."
Nash’s keynote was followed by a panel discussion where she, Jaime Lannon Diglio '00, Sales Director for Financial Services, Microsoft; Jessica (LaRoche) Pouliot '07, Director of Cambridge Associates LLC; and Staci Rezendes '16, a Private Wealth Management Client Associate at J.P. Morgan, discussed how they got their start, their advice for students starting out, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned.
The alumnae all credited their Bryant education with helping them build a foundation for success. “I barely knew what a stock was when I graduated from high school,” joked Rezendes, before becoming more serious. “Then I took a Finance course with Professor Mara Derderian and she opened up the whole world of finance for me.”
“Diversity and inclusion, having both men and women in executive level positions, is a clear link to success."
They also encouraged students and young professionals to constantly build on their skills. “Always be willing to try new things and participate in new projects,” advised Pouliot who was in one of the first classes to take part in Bryant’s student-run Archway Investment Fund. “When you do that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Lannon Diglio said it is just as important for men as well as women “support the women next to you.” It’s not just the right thing to do, she reminded the crowd: “When you bring women to the table, and let them be heard, you make more money.”
“This is about improving the workplace,” says Vanessa MacMillan '19, a member of the Executive Board for Bryant’s Smart Women in Finance group and the moderator for the forum’s panel discussion. “We’re not looking to take over, just to make sure that everyone can take part. It’s better for business, it’s better for everyone, really, to have increased diversity in the workforce.”