Carla Cooper is a seasoned finance professional who was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share her insight with Future Women Leaders.
Question #1: Tell me a bit about your background.
I have an undergraduate degree from Princeton. I joined Prudential Securities after college and spent three years there. Because I had a liberal arts major, and no finance background, my first four months at Prudential were really a tough challenge - a brutal four month financial education. Many of my peers had finance backgrounds and seemed to be so far ahead, but I knew that I would be able to overcome those challenges. In college, I wrote a 140 page thesis on a complex political topic - I knew I could do anything.
Early on, I really wanted to prove myself - prove that I could handle the challenges of the job. As a result, I ended up pursuing the CFA because I felt it would provide me with the skills I would need to do well at Prudential. And this is key - a lot of people advised me not to pursue the CFA, noting that my time would be better spent doing something else. Ultimately I made my decision based on what I believed would be the right step for me. One lesson I took away from my experience at Prudential is that it is important to look at what the organization values and take steps that will lead you to succeed in that environment.
Question #2: Why did you decide to get an MBA?
I wanted a flexible degree that would provide me with options in business. I decided to attend Kellogg because I felt it was a well-rounded school, which was an important aspect for me since I was considering getting out of finance. I spent my first summer in business school working in marketing - in some ways it was a horrible experience, but in other ways it was fantastic. I'd like to note here that difficult experiences really sharpen your thought process - there is usually something to be learned. I wouldn't seek out difficult experiences, but I wouldn't avoid them either. After that summer, and after spending time hearing about what friends in finance were doing, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in finance.
Something to consider when evaluating a job prospect - you can accept a job for the person you will be working for, if not for the job itself. After business school, I went to work for the co-director of Equity Research at Robert W. Baird & Co. and I became his right-hand woman. At Baird, I worked my way up from an Associate position to a Senior Analyst role. I spent about 10 years in sell-side research with Baird before I decided to transition to Baird Investment Management (where I have been for 4 years).
Question #3: What are the biggest work-related challenges you have faced? How did you overcome them?
- My Prudential experience (described in Question 1) - when I chose to pursue the CFA
- I had a challenging boss early in my career, and in terms of lessons I took away from that experience: have a thick skin - don't take things personally. If someone is being difficult, understand that there is another story underlying their behavior - might not be you
- Also - I had two kids while working as a Senior sell-side Research Analyst - no easy feat (I am blessed to have a supportive spouse). Something to consider - don't let others dictate to you what makes a good mom; it is important for your kids to see you as a happy person - so do what makes you happy
Question #4: Tell me about the mentors you have had in your life (male/female).
- My first boss at Baird - I really learned how to think things through and improved my interpersonal skills
- I had a great mentor at Prudential - someone who rescued me from the challenging boss I described earlier. She was smart, had a great presence - was strong and definitive and a great role model partly because she was a woman
Question #5: Anything you wish you had known when you were in earlier stages of your career?
Rules of the corporate or business world are sometimes unspoken - i.e. not as crystal clear as "these are the things you need to do to get an A." Sometimes you need to take risks or seek out guidance
Always weigh the costs and benefits of your actions. Don't be risk averse, but people can sometimes forget that the downside is higher than the incremental upside that they are focused on
Just have to figure things out as you go.
Question #6: What are leadership qualities you value most in others?
- Good blocking and tackling
- Someone who is consistent versus someone who is on once a year
- Engage with the people/work/process/everything and has some commitment to periodically stepping back and reviewing the strategy/goal
Question #7: What is your greatest achievement?
- I was really proud that I was a top ranked Senior Research Analyst at a firm I really respect.
- I was proud to have stayed on track professionally at the same time as I was raising a family
- You have to love what you do because there will come a day when being with your kids will become really attractive
Question #8: Who inspires you?
My husband inspires me because he is so level headed and is always thinking about how to solve problems. I am also frequently inspired by what I read and by people I meet.
Question #9: Do you have a mission statement or a tenet that you try to live by?
- You aren't learning anything if you are talking; make sure to listen!
- What goes around comes around
- Golden rule - treat others as you would like to be treated
Question #10: Do you have work/life balance?
- I have work/life balance - but I am always on the go; I don't get to sleep much, but that is ok with me
- I have three regular volunteer commitments - which I enjoy
- Exercise is definitely my stress release
The International Museum of Women
(I.M.O.W.) recently launched Economica: Women and the Global Economy
, its latest multimedia exhibition, which surveys the economic status of women worldwide from countries like India, China, Latin America to Egypt and here in the United States. Through engaging essays and photos, the show explores myriad themes, such as new visions
, basic rights
, family and fertility
, marriage and money
, property and wealth
, grassroots solutions
, as well as business leadership
Along with exceptional interviews and podcasts by women leaders, scholars, activists, economists, and writers, such as I.M.O.W. Global Council member Delores Huerta and Nobel Peace Nominee Rajaa H. Dhaher Al-Khuzai, Curator Masum Momaya adds depth to each series with her insightful thoughts on why each topic is relevant to women's present and future roles in the global economy. Her essay on The Body Economic, for example, is a brilliant piece exploring how public policy and personal choices affect women's lives.
Change is needed everywhere, and due to vast financial, political, and social shifts, Economica is not only timely, but riveting. The sections on business leadership in Qatar and microenterprise in Latin America are particularly motivating in regard to women not only participating in the workforce, but reshaping it to suit their needs and better their lives.
In a recent Women's eNews update focusing on women issues throughout the world, California's own need to empower more women in the boardroom was cited. As reported by The Los Angeles Business article "Women Still Largely Absent in California Boardrooms," the Graduate School of Management at the University of California Davis shared that "companies with women in top positions perform better and are more socially responsible, but there are few women in California corporate executive suites and board rooms. Women hold only 10.6 percent of the top management and board positions in California's largest 400 firms, down from 10.9 percent in 2008. Forty-six percent of the companies have no female executives."
In addition to Economica's curated content, the exhibition features the stories, artwork, music, and films submitted by I.M.O.W.'s online community members. According to I.M.O.W, "Every woman participates in the economy, but we all have different stories to tell."
From the ‘Hood to the House: Thursday, November 12th at the War Memorial Opera House
Join honorary co-chairs Dr. Maya Angelou and United States Senator Dianne Feinstein as Glide celebrates Reverend Cecil Williams' 45th Anniversary at Glide. In collaboration with the San Francisco Opera, "From the ‘Hood to the House" will take place on Thursday, November 12 at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and feature an evening of music, spoken word and dance from special guests Dr. Maya Angelou, Rita Moreno, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows, members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley, the world-renowned Glide Ensemble Choir and Change Band with other luminaries and entertainers. The evening's concert will be followed by a reception with lavish hors d'oeuvres and libations and entertainment from DJ David Harness and The Jaz Sawyer "Youth All-Star Quartet."
The evening's festivities will highlight Glide's Reverend Cecil Williams and his 45 years of service at Glide. When he arrived at Glide in 1963, Williams embraced and embodied the spirit of change that was raging through our country at the time. By the late 1960s, Glide had become home for San Francisco's diverse communities and marginalized populations and was ground zero for the counter-culture's political and spiritual aspirations.
Each year, Glide's Annual Holiday Festival raises funds for Mo's Kitchen and Glide's programs. Glide's Mo's Kitchen serves three meals a day to San Francisco's poorest residents - nearly one million meals each year. Tickets for Glide's Annual Holiday Festival, "From the ‘Hood to the House" range from $75 - $500 and are available through the San Francisco Opera Box Office, located at 301 Van Ness Ave, or by calling (415) 864-3330. Sponsorships start at $5,000.
Please go to www.Glide.org or call (415) 674-6117 or email email@example.com for more information.
FWL is volunteering with Glide on November 14th to serve a meal. To learn more or to register please visit: http://bit.ly/FWLGlideEvent (attendance is free and limited - so if you sign up, please commit to attending)
An interesting study I came across:
The deck is stacked against women from the earliest days of their careers, according to new research from DDI. “Holding Women Back: Troubling Discoveries and Best Practices for Helping Female Leaders Succeed” explains gender discrimination in the 21st century workplace, and discusses why formal succession management and development programs can increase gender balance in leadership roles.
“Holding Women Back” is a special report from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2008/2009, a bi-annual study that measures the impact of leadership development initiatives around the world. The study included data from more than 12,000 leaders from 76 countries.
What does the research reveal?
- Female leaders are under-represented in accelerated development programs early in their careers, which hinders their climb up the ladder.
- Because many of the accelerated programs (like high potential programs and one-on-one mentorship) are secret or happen behind closed doors, organizations aren’t held accountable for gender balance.
- Having women represented in significant numbers at every leadership level doesn’t mean that will carry to the executive level--in fact, there is a backlash against women at the top when they are dominant in leadership roles at every other level.
Learn more by reading the study “Holding Women Back”, listen to Ann Howard’s Podcast on the research or read and comment on Ann Howard’s blog about the research.
A Yahoo! Women In Tech group member recently shared this video with me, and I had to share it with my fellow FWLers. Watch Pascale Diaine of Orange Labs sit down with some of the most noteworthy and inspirational women in Silicon Valley to discuss their successes as women in technical positions.
A guest post by Amanda Huang:
I was asked by younger women who have been trained in science and technology about the pros and cons of finding work in industry and government. The definition of sciences is physical sciences, such as life science, biochemistry, chemistry and such; the social sciences are not in the discussion here. More and more women are in the sciences and technology field and they need thoughtful plans to explore their own career paths. Hope this note will provide some insights and be helpful in determining the better approach for their career development.
The primary alternatives for a female scientist or engineer besides academia are industry or government. For much of the recent history, scientists have had two options, academia and applied science. While basic sciences have been viewed as pure and noble, untainted by the prospect of profits; the industrial has been seen as the refuge for those who could not make it in academia.
In fact, industry and government positions have many advantages over those in academia. In general, it does not require a post doc experience from candidates. Women in industry can start working for better salaries sooner, which help their lifetime earnings in long term financial planning.
On average, industry and government positions require fewer work hours than do those in academia.
Women in industry and government are more able to focus on scientific research than their counter parts in academia. The disadvantage is that work gets done has to be done by them personally because there is no support from students. Another issue is that scientists must work on whatever that management thinks is important. After all, the commercial application of the research overrides other concerns in industry or government.
Another trade off for women in industry and government is that they lack the job security that tenured professors have.
Discrimination, bias and isolation are also challenges for women in industry and government, particularly in more male dominated areas. Women who end up supervising men may have an even more difficult time.
Not having a problem with women in engineering is quite different from treating them the same as men. For the woman who needs to feed both the creative and technical sides of herself, there are not a lot of options. Women fare better in groups that have formal hiring and promotion practices. A network based organization offers many routes to be successful.
We are living in the world that is progressing yet women in science and technology do face many challenges in their professional lives. Making deliberate and authentic decisions will help young women in science and technology to be successful in their chosen careers.
About Amanda Huang
Amanda Huang has been living in Toronto, Canada for the past two years, where she is a business plan provider and a part time clerk with TD Waterhouse. Her specialty is Business Communication in Energy, Investment banking, Material, Government policy and University and Medical Imaging.
Amanda Huang started her career with Air Products as a design engineer, then sales and marketing. She enjoyed long productive business relationships when she worked for Air Products.
Amanda Huang taught an ELS class in the United States after she finished her master degree in Management and Administration Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas. She lived in Boulder, Colorado; Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado for 4 years doing research projects while teaching English.
She has applied her experience and skills in Business to Business with her cross functional analysis and business intelligence ability with Fugro Airborne Surveys Corporation Canada.
Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.
A guest post by Parneet Gosal:
Earlier tonight, I was reading JourneyWoman's eNewsletter, for women who love to travel, when one of the tips caught my eye. Pauline arrived in Mumbai late one night and engaged the Priyadarshini Taxi Service to take her to the hotel. She literally received door to door service when her driver walked her to the hotel door for safety. Pauline later learned that the service is a 24/7 fleet of pink cabs run by female cab drivers trained in self defense, with the slogan "Of Women, For Women, By Women". Now I'm no rabid feminist and find the idea of a pink anything-that's-not-a-piece-of-clothing pretty unappealing; but as an empowered woman I LOVE the idea of a badass all female cab service. You go girls!
This also got me thinking of other sites that are geared towards women. My favorites are iVillage, BlogHer and Dove's CampaignForRealBeauty. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have favorites to share - I'd love to hear from you!
About Parneet Gosal
Parneet is a quintessential New Yorker with more than a passing interest in Digital. She oversees online audience development and online marketing strategies for major corporations during the day and moonlights as a blogger and consultant on audience development techniques during her spare time. You can contact Parneet at email@example.com, via her blog - belly of the bEAST or Twitter @parneetg.
Now I might be one of the last people to see this video, but I was blown away by the statistics surrounding the ever-changing global technological climate. The video, titled "Did You Know?", covers the progression of information technology and was researched by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. It serves as a great reminder that the world we live in is always changing, especially when it comes to technological advancement.
Host: FountainBlue When She Speaks Women in Leadership Series
Date: Friday, January 16 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: EMC Corporation, 2841 Mission College Boulevard in Santa Clara
Pre-register for $22 - $34 or on-site for $44
It has been 22 years since the term glass ceiling was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe the apparent barriers that prevent women from reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy; and it has been twelve years since the American government's specially appointed Glass Ceiling Commission published its recommendations. In 1995 the commission found that women had 45.7% of America's jobs and more than half of master's degrees being awarded. Yet 95% of senior managers were men, and female managers' earnings were on average a mere 68% of their male counterparts. Twelve years later women account for 46.5% of America's workforce and for less than 8% of its top managers.
Join us for a stimulating panel and discussion about why progress is so slow and what we must do to effect real, and rapid, change. Our panelists this month will include:
- Facilitator Jo Miller, Women's Leadership Coaching
- Panelist Sheri Atwood, VP of Global Solutions and Programs, Enterprise Marketing, Symantec
- Panelist Nina Bhatti, Principal Scientist, HP Labs
- Panelist Jennifer Bleakney, VP, Worldwide Distribution and Customer Support, National Semiconductor
- Panelist from LifeScan to be confirmed
- Panelist from EMC to be confirmed
Date: Friday, December 12 from 11:30am - 1:30pm
Host: FountainBlue's When She Speaks Women in Leadership Series
Location: EMC Corporation, 2841 Mission College Boulevard in Santa Clara
Register: Pre-register for $22 - $34 by December 11 or pay $44 on-site
Topic: Leveraging Diversity for Business Results
This month, we will celebrate the successes of women leaders who foster diversity within their organizations and demonstrate how and why diversity stimulates innovation, engages teams, and delivers results. Our esteemed panel will share their success stories, talk about how they rose to positions of authority, despite representing diverging viewpoints, and provide advice on how to embrace diversity within a team and an organization.
Our panelists this month will include:
- Facilitator Deepika Bajaj, Invincibelle
- Panelist Genevieve Haldeman, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Symantec Corporation
- Panelist Michelle Kerby, Sr. Manager; Technical Marketing and Communications, CTO Office, EMC Corporation
- Panelist Catherine Moore, Director of Business HR, Nokia Research Center
- Panelist Connie Osborne, Director of Business Development, Singer Lewak
- Panelist Preethy Padmanabhan, Director of Professional Development, iCON Inclusion & Diversity Group and Team Lead, Solutions Engineering, Cisco Systems