Sallie Squire, chief operating officer of Allspring, is interviewed by Christine Collins and Tyndale Brickey, co-leads for the Women’s Allspring Connectivity Group on International Women’s Day. As an executive leader, Sallie talks with Christine and Tyndale about who and what propelled her career, as well as the importance of mentors, overcoming challenges, and influencing the next generation of women leaders.
Sallie Squire: The key is that you build relationships and that you get yourself exposed to people that are smart, that can help you learn, and that can then also hopefully help open doors for you across many avenues. And then you have choice.
Christine Collins: That’s Sallie Squire, chief operating officer of Allspring. I’m Christine Collins.
Tyndale Brickey: And I’m Tyndale Brickey.
Christine: And you’re listening to On the Trading Desk®. Tyndale and I are co-leads of the Women’s Allspring Connectivity Group, or ACG. And today we’ll be speaking with Sallie in honor of Women’s History Month and, today, International Women’s Day. We’ll be talking with Sallie about what propelled her career, as well as the impact of mentors, overcoming challenges, and the importance of influencing the next generation of women leaders. Thank you for joining us today, Sallie.
Sallie: Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be here.
Christine: All right, Sallie, you’re chief operating officer now, but what are some of the different roles you’ve had over your career prior to this role?
Sallie: Yeah, I started my career in New York where I went through a management training program for a Wall Street firm that gave me a lot of exposure to different areas. It was a diversified financial services firm, so I got to look at lots of different areas. I was ultimately placed in a role where I worked for a sales manager for a high-net-worth brokerage desk and I did all sorts of different things. I did recruiting. I did the client management system. I had to do the daily call for the broker meetings. And then I ended up moving to California. I resigned from my job and moved to California. I did not have a role. It took me a little bit longer to get a job than I expected when I moved to California and I ended up taking a temp job with the firm that I was ultimately placed with. And that got me a full-time role in HR and then I had an HR business partner role, which then led to an HR management role, which ultimately led me to a business role in Wells Fargo Asset Management, which became Allspring. So, that’s what started my pathway, I would say, on the road to my current role.
Tyndale: Wow. That’s really interesting. And what propelled you to start your career in finance?
Sallie: I think I was good at math, right? So, I think I went to college and I got into the school of business. I went to Lehigh University. And, so, my father was in business and I think I just decided that I wanted to kind of follow in similar footsteps. He was in the oil business, but he was in banking. And I was good in math and then I chose finance as my major, so that is what actually ultimately led me to getting a couple of internships and then I kind of started to go from there.
Christine: What about some of the challenges, Sallie, that you may have encountered along the way? Can you speak to any?
Sallie: Yeah, I’ve had a great career where I haven’t had massive setbacks, but I think I’ve had a lot of the challenges that everybody has in terms of that first year out of school kind of navigating what you want to do. I mean, I think everybody thinks they know what they want to do. And I did have a finance career, but when I was sitting there doing that morning call every morning, I wasn’t really that passionate about it, right? So, I was really struggling as to what I wanted to do. And the key there is that you just kind of sit back and not think everything’s forever, right? And, so, you have to navigate things you don’t like very much to get ultimately to the place that I think really is your passion and motivates you. The other challenges I think are just the same things everybody has: organizational challenges, people challenges, some managers who advocate for you and others who do not. So, it’s navigating all the different personalities. I think what actually drew me to asset management and this team is I got to work with a lot of different portfolio managers and, so, managing a lot of different personalities, figuring out how to navigate those and change how you approach one person versus another. I didn’t always do it perfectly, but again, you learn through those mistakes and so the rest is history.
Tyndale: And one thing here at Allspring, we know we need to get more women in the asset management industry. So, how do you think Allspring can influence young women to start a career in finance?
Sallie: One of the things that I love about Allspring is that we do have a lot of senior women. We can get better for sure. I think the key for us is to celebrate the successes that we have, reach out, do a lot of outreach to our schools and universities, our communities, really. I think whether or not it’s starting your career or coming back after a maternity leave, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to attract women in different stages of their lives. And we’ve had success at hiring mothers that are coming out of maternity leave who’ve never had a background in financial services but really have a general background in some sort of business or some sort of skill that we can apply. And we have to push each other, right? I think that’s the other thing. I think that the rhetoric is correct, which is, I think, women tend to doubt themselves a little bit more. They tend to not push themselves into positions that they think are beyond their skill set. And I think that that ultimately holds us back, right? So, when I look back at my career, the leaps and the risks that I’ve taken, it’s because I’ve been pushed, right? I’ve been pushed by a mentor. I’ve been pushed by somebody who saw a talent in me and said, hey, you should try this or you should try that. And I think that we just need to do more of that with each other.
Christine: So, you just mentioned having a good mentor. Have you had any impactful female mentors or sponsors over your career? And a second-part question to this is does it matter even what gender your sponsor or mentor is if they’re not of the same gender?
Sallie: In my experience, it has not mattered. I’ve had just as many positive female mentors as well as male mentors, so I’ll kind of touch on both. I think even in my first job that there were many senior women on the desk. And, in fact, I think women led the team that I was working for. So, I had lots of women in my sphere of influence. And I think, for me, mentorship is really about building relationships with people that you work with and for. And, so, they didn’t necessarily set out to be mentors, but I developed relationships with them and you can really learn a lot if you ask questions and spend time with people and go out of the way. And that’s really, I think, what propelled me to get some of the support and advocacy that I got. And I think that equally I’ve had such successful male advocates, as well. A lot of my leaders early on were male and they really, again, they pushed me just as much and, in some cases, more than some of my women colleagues. So, I think what I learned is that the key is that you build relationships and that you get yourself exposed to people that are smart that can help you learn and then also hopefully help open doors for you across many avenues. And then you have choice.
Tyndale: Yeah, and just to flip it around, have you personally mentored women or influenced younger women to take that next step or to push that person to take that next risk in their career? And did it happen organically or inorganically?
Sallie: I would say that I first start with the basics, right? Which is I get really involved in college recruiting, so that’s something that’s been a passion of mine from the beginning. Obviously, I started my career there and I still think it’s really important to go out there and recruit and be part of bringing in new women to the organization. So that’s number one. Number two, I think as I became a manager and had more women and more opportunity to hire women, I have pushed. In fact, some of my colleagues that I work with today, I pushed them into roles that they first said, absolutely not. There’s no way I’m doing that job. And after a couple of meetings and a lot of celebrating successes, really that give more, I would say, empowerment and optimism that they could do the job right, they took it on and did a wonderful job. A better job than had been done before. So yes, I have. I can do more of it, right? And I think that we all can do more of it, but absolutely.
Christine: So, Sallie, I have to ask you this. I mean, you’re a member of the Executive Leadership Team. You’re on the Allspring Board. Do you ever have imposter syndrome in your job?
Sallie: Every day. I think that I doubt myself, as well, right? I didn’t come up as a technical portfolio manager. And, so, I think if you don’t have imposter syndrome also, it means you’re not pushing yourself enough to go into areas where you’re not absolutely sure of everything. And I think that the key for me there to continue to work and navigate and improve is to surround yourself with people that know they are experts in what they do or that really look at the team. So, I am part of a village, if you will. So, I think the key is that you have people around you that will help you, that will pick you up when you stumble, because I think we all stumble. I certainly have quite a bit. But it’s something that you realize once you have it once, you learn something and you make your way through it, and then it gives you that kind of confidence to take the next risk and next risk. And I think that’s where it’s really important to, again, take risks throughout your career.
Tyndale: So, Sallie, I work on the investment side and oftentimes I find myself as the only woman in the room and you hope that they remember you for good reasons. So, when has being a woman in finance, if ever, been an advantage for you?
Sallie: Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t really think of it that way, right? So, I’m not one that is really focused too much on gender as I’ve gone through, but I have certainly been aware of it. So, I’ve been aware when I’m the only woman in the room, for sure. I think at times I’m the youngest person in the room. I remember early on thinking, gosh, what am I doing here? I don’t have experience relative to others. But I think the advantage of being the only woman in the room could be that I think through things differently, right? So, I think that I approach issues differently. I have a different experience than most of the people in the room, which gives me a way to solve issues in a different way. I may ask questions in a way that most of the males in the room may not. The key is that you don’t focus, I guess, as much on gender being the reason for something or not for something. And I think you just work through it and you build relationships. I think that’s really what it’s about. And I think you can be the only female in the room and you can be the only male in the room and it really shouldn’t have an impact on how the conversation goes.
Tyndale: All right. Well, thank you so much, Sallie, for being with us here today and for sharing your insights. We appreciate it.
Sallie: Well, thank you. I’m honored to be here. I love celebrating International Women’s Day, so thank you so much.
Tyndale: Thank you.
Christine: Thank you.
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