I spent my childhood in a suburb of Philadelphia. My mother, a single mom for many years, worked two jobs so that my sister and I would have what we needed. She taught me that money doesn't grow on trees. When I told one of my sons that, he informed me that isn't true because paper comes from trees and money is made from paper. My mom was also famous for saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That is what defines me. I'm willing to take risks in both my personal and professional life.
In 1993 I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. I especially enjoyed my semester in Poland at the Warsaw School of Economics after the Berlin Wall was torn down. Initially I wanted to be an archeologist because I was fascinated by evolution. I started out in liberal arts but later took an economics class and found it intuitive. I also went on an archeological dig in Israel the summer of my freshman year. Reality set in. You have to get up at 3 a.m. and you can't just dig. Archeology is slow-paced, and it didn't seem conducive to family life. A journalist once said that I like to scour the globe for hidden treasures, and that's what I do in my current role.
I've been with J.P. Morgan my entire career. I started on the asset management side of the business in fundamental equity investing and then followed my manager to the private bank in a client-facing role managing portfolios. After I had my children, I took a position on the product side and built our manager selection program and our thematic advisory program, which offers clients dynamically managed liquid portfolios that capitalize on market opportunities. I'm also on our Asset Management Product Strategy Committee.
The year I graduated wasn't a good one for job hunting. I came out of the school of arts and science and was competing for positions against students from the Wharton School at Penn. Investment banking was hot at the time, and I entered asset management. There weren't large-scale training programs like there are today. But I believed in myself. I took copious notes, asked a lot of questions and later went back to school for an MBA. When I found myself in a position that wasn't a good match, I requested a change. I learned from an early boss to always double check your work because careless mistakes deter people from trusting you. I also learned it's better to address a problem with a team member individually rather than in front of a group. I convinced upper management there was a need for my current group, and also that I was the person to lead it.
I like to share my experiences with young women and the younger people on my team. I'm on the Trustees Council of Penn Women. It's difficult for young people today — especially young women — to understand how to apply their skills. I hope they can learn from my experiences.
As Told To Pat Olsen
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