This website, and the associated book, are dedicated to every woman who’s ever broken through a barrier, violated a taboo, or overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible, but was merely difficult . . . without even breaking a nail, or whining about it if she did.
Finance has always been a male-dominated profession, especially when it comes to positions of power. Women in finance face multiple hurdles on their way to the top. They are often underestimated and expected to work harder than male counterparts to prove their worth. Additionally, women are often held to different standard and even simply overlooked when it comes to rising up in a work environment. These facts are supported by statistics, which show that even though women are actually 3 percent more effective than men in terms of leadership, only about 3 percent of top company CEOs are women.
If you want to make it big as a woman in finance, then consider finding a role model or mentor. Here are five women who have shattered traditional perceptions and made a name for themselves in the investment world:
Abigail Johnson, Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Investments
Called “the most influential woman in finance” by Boston Magazine, Abigail Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. Fidelity Investments is a 72-year old firm, but Johnson is “determined to remake her family’s company for a new generation. And she’s willing to shake up the old-boys club to do it.” She has been featured on many Forbes’ lists, including Forbes Most Powerful Women of 2018 with a rank of #5.
After over 30 years of working at Fidelity under her father, she was named CEO in 2014, and Chairman in 2016. Johnson is famous for pivoting away from traditional Fidelity strategies, and in her first year as CEO, Fidelity saw profits of over $5 billion for the first time ever. Apart from being an undoubtedly stellar female businesswoman, Johnson works with youth organizations to promote financial services as a career choice for young women through Fidelity’s Boundless program.
Linda Bradford Raschke, Professional Trader
Professional trading is a difficult field. Al Hill, co-founder of TradingSim writes, “First off, trading is honestly worse than a sales job or entrepreneurship when it comes to steady income. The level of uncertainty can be unbearable if you have never gone without a steady paycheck.” But the level of unpredictability didn’t stop Linda Bradford Raschke, who has made it to the top as a professional trader.
Starting off as a trader in the early 1980s, Raschke worked as a market maker for stock options. After working at the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and then the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, she became a self-employed day trader. She has written a book on trading strategies that is widely featured in the media and is often called upon to lecture on trading for many renowned organizations like Bloomberg. Even though she is retired today, her legacy included two financial firms that bear her initials LBRGroup, Inc., a commodity trading advisor, and LBR Asset Management, a commodity pool operator.
Lubna S. Olayan, CEO, Olayan Financing Company
Lubna S. Olayan is the CEO of one of Saudi Arabia’s top companies, Olayan Financing Company. Not only is she responsible for 50 manufacturing companies, but she has also been featured on the Forbes’ “Most Powerful Women” list. Olayan is a great example of breaking barriers. As a Saudi woman in the 1980s, working in business was not considered socially acceptable. Even today, it is still rather uncommon for Saudi women to work outside the house.
But Olayan didn’t care much for these societal restrictions and didn’t let cultural perceptions get in her way. Today, she employs over 540 women in her company and is a strong advocate for women in the workforce. Her skill and perseverance led her to become the first female board member of a Saudi public company, Saudi Hollandi Bank in 2004. She has also served as a board member for Egyptian Finance Company and the investment bank Capital Union.
Aileen Lee, Founder and Partner, Cowboy Ventures
Featured on Forbes’ Midas list, Aileen Lee is the cofounder of Cowboy Ventures. According to Forbes, “Lee secured the #97 rank thanks in part to her investments in Bloom Energy, which could list on the public markets as soon as May and was most recently valued at about $3 billion; Dollar Shave Club (acquired by Unilever for $1 billion in 2016); and Rent the Runway, which raised funding this year at an estimated valuation of nearly $800 million.”
Sound investments aside, it is worth noting that Cowboy Ventures in one of the first VC firms to be launched by a woman. Previously, Lee worked at the prestigious firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for 13 years. As a champion for women in the workplace, Lee is also a founding member of All Raise, which runs a one-on-one mentorship series for women in investment called “Female Founder Office Hours.”
Marie Chandoha, President and CEO, Charles Schwab Investment Management
With over 35 years of investment experience, Marie Chandoha was named CEO of Charles Schwab Investment Management (CSIM) in 2010. Chandoha got where she is today by taking risks. For instance, as stated by Forbes, “she once took a role at a company heading an underperforming department. She knew the job could disappear if she didn’t turn the unit around and the parent company collapsed it.” Instead, Chandoha successfully made the department profitable again, allowing her to move on to other roles.
Prior to joining CSIM, Chandoha was the global head of the fixed-income business at BlackRock (formerly Barclays Global Investors). Chandoha is a strong businesswoman, but also has an innate concern for the well-being of others. She acts as a mentor to many women colleagues and encourages them to take career risks and stretch themselves. She is also an advocate of sustainability and owns a ranch with her husband dedicated to sustainable farming practices.
Being a woman in investment is no easy feat. With a multitude of various obstacles along the way to the top, much still needs to be done to even the playing field between men and women in business. That being said, if you’re a woman in finance looking to shatter the glass ceiling, don’t lose hope. After all, as proven by these five titans of the investment world, sheer grit and determination can lead to success.
But for me, a sixteen-year-old Indian girl traveling from San Jose to Beijing, this trip was a daunting ordeal. I would be spending the week with six other kids I didn’t know, sharing a large apartment with my dad as the only chaperone.
We were traveling to China as part of an International Outreach Awareness Committee with Team HBV, a student-run organization under the Asian Liver Center. The Asian Liver Center, along with Team HBV, aims to educate the general public about the prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B infection in Asian communities.
Chronic Hepatitis B, which can lead to serious liver damage and eventually liver cancer, claims the life of 600,000 people each year. Furthermore, although Asian Americans consist of only 4% of the American population, they comprise of over 50% of the nation’s chronically infected people.
Hepatitis B is preventable through vaccination, but the disease often does not show symptoms until it is far too late. Because of this, early screening and testing are of utmost importance.
Unfortunately, there is a strong stigma surrounding Hepatitis B in Asian communities. Our group traveled to China as a way to start the conversation regarding the disease. By encouraging even a few people to get screened or encourage their friends to get tested, we could take small steps to eradicate the taboo and saving lives.
Our group consisted of kids from all around California who were handpicked to represent the Asian Liver Center in China through an application process.
The first few days of our trip were awkward and tense; no one knew each other and everyone was trying to get accustomed to their surroundings. Our shared goal of spreading information brought us together, and we spent several hours rehearsing our presentations, going over HBV facts, and working out the details of our outreach.
Although we weren’t able to present at some of the elementary and middle schools we had planned to visit, we educated everyone we talked to, from college students to workers in the Subway.
We even worked with interns at the Peking ALC to see if they could replicate some of the outreach that was working so well in America.
And over the course of this week, the trip that I once so feared became one of my favorite experiences in my life. I grew incredibly close to the other committee members, and I visited many amazing, historical places in China.
I also grew even more passionate about our cause. Before, I volunteered with Team HBV because I thought it was a good cause to support. I got involved because I felt like I couldn’t let innocent people die when I possessed knowledge that could help them.
During my trip, I grew close to people who experienced first hand the tragedies of HBV: people who had lost loved ones to the disease; people whose own parents couldn’t tell them they were infected because they were embarrassed; people who wished they had gotten tested just a little sooner.
After returning home, I started looking for more opportunities to get involved. One of my first attempts was to rent out a booth at the monthly De Anza Flea Market to distribute outreach information and spread awareness. My two friends and I talked to over one hundred and fifty people about Hepatitis B and what they could do to help.
I used to think that this trip to China would be my biggest contribution and involvement with Team HBV. After all, I traveled all the way across the globe for outreach. Now, I know this is only the beginning. There are so many more things I can do, from starting a club at my high school and later at college to writing a blog and volunteer more frequently locally to help make a difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stuti Upadhyay – She is interested in the field of Biology – particularly molecular biology for cancer. Looking forward to participating in many cancer-related molecular biology research opportunity, including hands-on lab work. She is passionate about helping disadvantaged kids, health and exercise, and environmental sustainability. A Bay Area native who enjoys the beach, running, soccer, watching movies and listening to music.