Women's Leadership and Success in the World of Finance
By April Tsang and Eileen Jin, Ambassador Girl Scouts from Troop 4772
It is March 26th, 2013. You are in a room on the 47th floor of 1 Wall Street. Enter the room at around 9:45AM and you would have seen a surprising sight: girls of all ages and and backgrounds bustling about the room, grabbing breakfast and socializing with some of the most distinguished people in the world of finance. These girls were Girl Scouts from across the five boroughs, and these distinguished individuals were both businessmen and businesswomen (but mostly women!) who had found success through years of striving and doing their best – precisely the values that Girl Scouts embody.
The "Be a Game Changer" event sponsored and hosted by Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) was an amazing event that allowed us Girl Scouts the opportunity to gain insight about the working world that we one day will be experiencing ourselves. The speakers included: Heather Landy Editor-in-Chief of American Banker; Richard Hoey, David Polansky, and Wanda Hill of BNY Mellon; Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments; and many more influential people, each of whom gave us advice learned over their years in business that would aid us in the future.
For instance, Heather Landy compiled a list of the top ten pieces of advice that she herself received from women she deemed to be the most powerful in her field. She described the world of finance to be not a ladder to be climbed, but a lattice; she explained that we can't climb our way straight to the top because sometimes, to achieve our dreams and to achieve success, it is necessary to go right, left, or even back. Other speakers agreed, saying that they had worked other, less influential jobs before they rose to their current positions of status, or that they lost their jobs and had to look for another. Some actually never considered a job in the world of finance. But all stayed true to themselves and strove to achieve success in a field they were passionate about.
Wanda Hill reminded us that we have the power to change. Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, told the story of her rise to success, starting from her childhood and being the youngest of many siblings in a single-mom household to becoming the president of Ariel Investments and being on the boards of many well-known companies, such as Dreamworks Animation and Starbucks. She repeated to us something her mom used to tell her: “Be the labor, great or small. Do it well, or not at all.” She reinforced the idea of the finance world being a lattice when she said “You have to crouch to conquer.” She told us to speak our minds and never lose sight of what we want accomplished, but to stop and listen to criticism because we can always learn more from others. Another hour of the day was spent touring the New York Stock Exchange, which everyone enjoyed and learned even more about how stocks work and what all the numbers really mean.
These are all valuable ideas and suggestions that will aid us immensely as we move forward in our lives and future careers. So thank you, BNY Mellon, for allowing us Girl Scouts that wonderful opportunity to explore our interests in the world of finance, and for instilling in us the knowledge that we can succeed if we put our best and hardest-working selves forward.