The year was 2002. Armed with my college degree, zero direction, no LinkedIn, no one providing potential paths, and no desire to move back home, I did what every parent dreads: moved in with a boyfriend. I wanted my own money, so I got a job bartending and waitressing. During those six months of hard physical work, I realized a few things: The service industry consists of amazing people who work hard, function over form is best for shoes when you work on your feet, and I had a knack for chatting people up and selling.
Eventually, I stumbled my way into a recruiting office, where they offered me a job instead of finding me one. After a couple of years, I realized recruiting wasn’t necessarily my thing. But, apparently, a hedge fund client of mine thought I had the chops for investor relations at his start-up, and that’s where my career in finance began.
I’d never even taken an economics, finance, or accounting class. Everything I learned was on the job. Taking the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam without any previous knowledge was a beast and required a ton of studying, but I passed.
At larger firms, the investor relations function relies on contributions from many different departments, like marketing, sales, client services, and distribution enablement. At the hedge fund start-up, though, I handled all of these roles at the same time—and I always found myself gravitating the most toward anything involving the creation of marketing content. Unfortunately, that was only a small slice of my role at the time.
Fast forward 10 years, a Global Financial Crisis, and another investor relations role at a fund of hedge funds, I still found myself mostly working with men, and no one in particular took an interest in helping me in my career, so I was floundering.
Then, out of the blue, I got a LinkedIn message from a friend of a friend who said there was a hedge fund content role at UBS Asset Management and that I should consider meeting the hiring manager. My immediate response was, would UBS really hire an eight months’ pregnant woman? Apparently that wasn’t a deterrent: I met with the team, and two days before I delivered my daughter, I had a job offer.
This was the first time in my career that I reported to a woman, and I was excited about it. I finally had someone who helped me realize that I did in fact have a skill set that’s valuable: taking more complex concepts from investment professionals and breaking them down into digestible formats for our sales teams.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but my manager helped me along the way, always lifting me up and giving me confidence. With her leadership and direction, I jumped up the ranks, took on more asset classes, and was eventually asked to run the Global Product Marketing team. I needed prodding to take this on because I was scared out of my mind and didn’t think I could do it. My manager knew I could succeed and pushed me to accept the role, so I did.
Today—at Allspring and years later, but back with my mentor—I’m still learning and growing. I’m writing content, which I love to do, but I’m also trying to pay it forward to my team and others. Mentorship isn’t just about finding young talent and helping them learn and grow. It’s definitely part of it, but mentorship also is about helping people realize how they can be strong contributors in their roles while also feeling challenged and empowered to learn more and feel strong satisfaction. I’ve mentored young people and helped them become content writers in our industry, and I’ve managed people of all ages and all backgrounds. There’s an amazing feeling when witnessing someone in the middle or at the tail end of their career hit their stride and be incredibly motivated to keep doing more.
I encourage you to think about what valuable knowledge and experiences you have and how they could help a colleague. There’s great satisfaction in mentorship. It enhances relationships and often makes your own job easier. You may even launch a new career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of the person who mentored me.