Remember sick days when you were little? You’d stay home from school and scroll through the TV Guide to find something to watch.

Most kids would watch The Price is Right. But one day when I was home sick, I scrolled through the TV Guide and found this thing called Power Lunch. It was a TV show that showed the New York Stock Exchange trading room floor. It seemed like such chaos – but organized chaos. What really intrigued me about it was the people there seemed to know the rules, but those rules were hard for those of us on the outside to understand.

It was like a game that they knew how to play, but I didn’t. That’s what excited me. I wanted to learn the rules.

On International Women’s Day 2024, I had the honor of visiting the Fearless Girl on the seventh anniversary of her release. She now stands proudly facing the New York Stock Exchange, signifying the opportunity for continued progress for women.

Two has always been my favorite number. It’s just a very easy divider and multiplier and at the root of so many things. And on International Women’s Day, I made my second trip to the New York Stock Exchange. But while I got to visit the trading room floor last year, this time, I was able to be there alongside so many inspiring women on the podium for the opening bell with State Street Global Advisors.

This was a full circle moment for me. Let me tell you why.

‘Why Not Just Be the Boss?’

I grew up with brothers. It never intimidated me to be around “the guys.” And while I was growing up with the guys, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to be. I didn’t know about finance when I was a little girl, but I did know three things: (1) I wanted to work in a big office building; (2) I wanted to have a briefcase; and (3) I wanted to wear fancy clothes.

One day, on the way to dance class, I declared to my dad that I wanted to be a secretary. It seemed like a logical choice that would meet all my requirements. But when I told my dad, he turned to me and said, “Why not just be the boss?”

He planted a seed that started to grow as I started taking finance classes as an undergrad at University of Nebraska Omaha and later as a graduate student at Creighton University. I was the only girl in a lot of them. I started to learn about the rules that I was intrigued by watching Power Lunch.

Fresh out of college, I moved from Omaha to southwest Oklahoma with my husband, who was in the Army. I found myself at a financial advisory office and started to learn about the struggles advisors were going through. But I knew an advisory role wasn’t for me. I spent seven years at CLS Investments, where I started out on trading and ended up leading the trading team before moving over to the investment team.

Then Carson recruited me away. I started here as an investment analyst seven years ago. I found myself in the right place, at the right time. We were going through rapid change and at that time, the trading team and investment team were separate. I was able to bridge the gap and bring them together during that rapid expansion. Having managed a trading desk before, I was able to jump in and help them put processes into place.

Then I did the same thing with the investments team, getting the team ready to go through this massive transformation. I was able to come in, work with them and help implement our new platform and support, with the backing of the leadership team – Ron, Burt and Teri.

My dad told me I could be a boss. And it’s the narrative of when we believe it, we can do it. I’m an example of that. I lead an investment team – and the investment world is very male-dominated – but I do it with the support of our Carson team.

And the work I do is THE only path for me.

Investing in Change

We believe in female leadership so much at Carson, that we have designed an investment strategy around it. We have a ton of knowledge inside Carson when it comes to portfolio management. We were thinking, “How can we best use all this knowledge to benefit our partners?”

We believe in investing in women and making change at Carson – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because there are better financial outcomes associated with female leadership.

So we developed the Women CEO Strategy where we give advisors are more authentic opportunity to invest exclusively in S&P Global 500 Companies with female CEOs.

I worked with colleague, portfolio manager Jake Bleicher, and learned how much of an advocate he is because of the women in his life – and especially his daughter.

“I was inspired by my daughter to create the WCEO Strategy,” Jake said. “My goal was to spotlight women in the highest echelons of leadership so that one day, girls will grow up in a world without glass ceilings, or any ceilings, to become the leaders they aspire to be.”

The Power of Sponsorship

On this Women’s History Month, I reflect on all the sponsors and allies who have helped me get to where I am today. And I think about how our 2023 State of Women in Wealth Management research found that sponsors were critically important to advancing and retaining women in our male-dominated industry. As someone who has had successful relationships with sponsors, I’d like to share my advice to others trying to do the same:

  • Be clear about what you’re looking for as far as what are your next steps, what you want to work on, and what you are comfortable with.
  • Be clear about how they can help you.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do – exceed their expectations even. Because if someone is opening a door for you, give 110 percent to show it was worth their time.

There are so many people who are willing to advocate for you if you put in the work. Almost every single person who helped me get to where I am today was a male who tried to help elevate my career.

It’s not about us versus them. We have to work together to make progress.

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

It was surreal being up on that podium with other female leaders in finance. I was there where all the action happens – a woman in a male-dominated space, on International Women’s Day, in a place I was fascinated with as a kid.

I’m grateful to be where I am, and that my husband is super supportive. My sons are just as interested in what I do as my daughter.

In college, I was literally the only girl in my finance classes. Now, at my college, you’ll see two or three other females. We still have a long way to go to be able to make way for other females, and it’s not moving fast enough.

And while I’m not 100 percent comfortable shining a spotlight on myself, I feel like it’s important to be a leader who shares my story with more women. I have a duty to step outside my comfort zone and represent the women in finance so hopefully more women will be inspired to pursue a similar path!

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