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Calculating Career Options
The number of rewarding career options in finance, banking and insurance add up to success.
With intentional planning, the pursuit of a professional path in the finance, banking and insurance fields can be worthy and rewarding.
For those with sharp analytical skills and mathematical minds, careers in insurance underwriting can be lucrative. The average salary in 2016 was $67,680. Advanced education is advised for supervisory roles.
If numbers and communication are your strong suits, then the banking industry is for you. Specifically, credit and risk analysis make attractive specializations. Nationwide, the mean salary for such workers in 2016 was $81,160.
The world of finance offers dynamic careers for those on the customer service side, through financial analysts. Average salaries for the latter were $81,760 in 2016 alone.
Professional motivation, skills and experience differ, as evidenced from the minority professional interview subjects we’ve had the pleasure to connect with in this feature.
Mentoring relationships have played a large role across their paths, as has a desire to pay it forward for aspiring young minority professionals who are following their paths.
Stories detailed here of personal hardship, drive and commitment to excellence will inform and motivate the career trajectories of those interested in charting similar and successful paths.
Chubb’s Moffett Rises from Hardship
Personal and professional growth and excellence often follow hardship. Such was the case for Ivy Moffett, whose family survived the horrific path of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA.
“Due to the destruction of my home and community, I evacuated to Dallas, TX, where I completed my senior year of high school,” details Moffett.
Though she’d originally planned to attend another university, her mother “received a call from the head track coach of DePaul University, offering me an athletic and academic scholarship. I ultimately decided DePaul was the best place for me, as it would place minimal financial stress on my family, given everything we had been through, the university had an excellent business program, [and] ample internship and post-graduate career opportunities,” she continues.
Moffett initially wanted to pursue investment banking or regulatory reporting, however, again, Hurricane Katrina shifted her passion.
“I personally witnessed my family and others begin to try and put their lives back together. The biggest of many stumbling blocks they met revolved around the failure of local government and federal agencies to provide natives with proper resources,” she recalls.
“Because of this I wanted to obtain a better understanding of public policy and regulation, and aid constituents in their time of need at local and state levels,” says Moffett, who majored in public policy, with an urban concentration.
In addition to her education, internships have been instrumental to Moffett’s rise, specifically government experiences.
“My interest with government began when I witnessed my mother emotionally break down when she was unable to get information and answers from local officials and agencies after Hurricane Katrina,” says Moffett.
“My government internships are major contributors to my current personal and work principles. It taught me the importance of empathy, commitment and accountability.”
In 2010, as Moffett sought her first job after graduating, the economic climate was hostile.
“It was about six months after the financial bailouts, and finance jobs were scarce,” she says.
Unable to risk a relocation, “I applied for any position available in the business or government realm in the city. After interviews, I felt that the small insurer that specialized in surplus lines would be the best company for me and accepted a position with them as an assistant underwriter. I’d just decided I wanted to work in the insurance industry, so maybe it was fate that I was offered the opportunity at that time.”
She worked for two years before attending graduate school. With insurance being a highly regulated industry, “I felt gaining more skill around regulatory compliance and implementation would be beneficial to my development and career path,” says Moffett, who obtained her master’s degree in public administration through DePaul.
Moffett moved on to Chubb in 2012, as a portfolio underwriter. “I gained knowledge of personal lines insurance for the first time, [and] deepened my knowledge on the science of underwriting, but also the art of it,” she says.
Next, Moffett joined the Professional Associates Program at the company, which has North American operations in Philadelphia, PA, and has offices around the world, including executive offices in Zurich Switzerland, New York, NY and London, U.K. Within five months, she gained underwriting authority.
In her current position as an underwriting manager in personal risk services, she supervises associate underwriters in the Midwest region, evaluates team and individual productivity and timeliness results, and provides on-going performance coaching and resources to maximize individual employee contributions and achievement of goals, among other duties.
To stay ahead of the curve, “Chubb has been great with providing training sessions on business skills, career development and managerial programs. These programs have been essential in my role as an underwriter, as well as a key component in the creation of my career development plan,” says Moffett.
She also stays active in Chubb’s business roundtables (BRTs), for members of minority groups.
“They support the company’s new employee onboarding process, as well as talent development and retention. BRTs also provide great networking opportunities with employees and leaders located around the world,” says Moffett.
In addition, Chubb’s Personal Risk Services (PRS) division, has its own diversity and inclusion council, that fosters both leadership and employee engagement.
“It’s very easy for a large company to say they support diversity and inclusion, but as an employee, I actually see the diversity and the commitment of leadership to make sure Chubb is living by this value,” she observes.
Looking ahead, Moffett plans to gain more skills in auditing and ultimately have a leadership role within compliance.
“I’ve always had a passion for regulation and oversight, so I decided to pursue an associate degree in regulatory compliance to deepen my understanding of its function. I have a great mentor within this area with whom I meet regularly to discuss my personal and career development,” elaborates Moffett.
“Not only did she have an admirable career path, but she was a woman of color who I could culturally relate to. Her willingness to share her knowledge and sound advice has been key in assisting me through challenging obstacles. She holds me accountable for plans I make in my department, and pushes me to excel in everything I do.”
For updated information about jobs and careers, visit www2.chubb.com/us-en/careers. Connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Allstate’s Enrique Steps Out of Her Comfort Zone for New Opportunities
Stepping out of her comfort zone has been key to Gabrielle Enrique’s bright future.
While pursuing double majors in communication studies and Spanish at Northwestern University, Enrique studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain during her junior year.
“This was out of my comfort zone, but it made me realize that the greatest opportunity for growth is when I’m out of my element,” she says.
Involving herself in extracurricular groups on campus also proved invaluable.
As director of campus involvement for her sorority, she “collaborated with other on-campus organizations to plan, execute and drive engagement with events and causes that aligned well with our sorority’s mission and values.”
Enrique’s work ethic, decision-making capabilities and networking opportunities were strengthened, which led to internship positions, too.
“I had four internships over the course of my college career. My first was at a law firm in a support capacity. Next was at a franchise PR firm, where I supported multiple client accounts, wrote press releases and pitched media. Then one with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (IL) in a media relations capacity. Senior year I worked part-time at a hedge fund, where I did a lot of event coordination,” outlines Enrique.
With such a breadth of experience under her belt, she transitioned post-graduation into the leadership development program in which she’s involved at Northbrook, IL-headquartered Allstate.
“A couple of my sorority friends had introduced me to the program and submitted a referral on my behalf. It’s designed to develop versatile enterprise leadership through year-long business rotations in different areas of the organization,” she explains.
On the job Enrique’s spent time in consumer marketing on the property product team, supporting marketing initiatives for property lines including, homeowners, renters, condo, personal umbrella policy and more. She’s also supported the creative department in marketing assets, including digital display, streaming radio and online video.
Today, as a sales support specialist, she’s working in brand distribution on the Allstate Auto Dealer Program team, which manages the operations of 240 Allstate agencies owned by and located within auto dealerships.
“My role now is operations-focused, and quite a deviation from what I’ve done before,” says Enrique.
Looking back, “my strong written and verbal communication skills have proven hugely beneficial,” reflects Enrique.
“My teams have tasked me with copywriting, editing and proofreading team materials, because they know that’s where my strengths lie.”
Putting in time with the employee resource groups offered through Allstate, such as Professional Latino Allstate Network (PLAN), Allstate Women’s “I” Network (AWIN) and Young Professional Organization (YPO), has allowed Enrique to work cross-functionally with people she wouldn’t normally encounter in her role, and to gain greater exposure and experience.
Mentors have been an integral part of Enrique’s current rotational program, too. The mentorship program facilitates the matching of participants to both formal and peer mentors to guide them over the course of their time at Allstate.
“I’ve been lucky to develop relationships with people throughout the organization, in different departments and functions, and thus expand my network. They’ve made introductions on my behalf, have encouraged me to explore roles based on my expressed interests, and have given me advice for how to navigate relationships with managers,” Enrique points out.
Since business operations has become something in which she’s more interested, Enrique plans on pursuing a graduate degree within the next five years.
“I’d like a few more years of work experience before specializing in a degree area,” she says.
For those who wish to follow her path, she has this advice: “One key to success early on in a career is to say yes to as many projects and opportunities as possible. Being able to demonstrate that you’re not only good at your job, but that you’re also able to go above and beyond is a great way to stand out.”
For updated information about jobs and careers, visit allstate.com/careers.aspx. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Mallory Creates Connections That Pay Off at Regions
Finding a mentor made a huge difference in Jelicia Mallory’s career path.
While pursuing her undergraduate degree in business-marketing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, at the urging of one of her business instructors, Mallory joined INROADS, an international organization that focuses on the lack of ethnic diversity across America. It places talented minority youth in internships at sponsoring companies.
“My instructor was also a business owner, a figurehead at school, and became my INROADS mentor,” says Mallory.
“The organization trains you in different leadership courses, professional etiquette [and] public speaking. [And it] guided me into a leadership role as an ambassador. I had to speak to students on campus about the group. It helped me break out of my shell,” she says.
While attending school, Mallory worked for Regions Bank as a teller, as it worked well with her school schedule. She interviewed for and was later placed as an intern at the company during the summer of her senior year.
“I was in the corporate marketing department and managed full campaigns,” says Mallory, who parlayed her skills as a teller to the role.
“Having customer service experience and being in clear communication with customers - when you’re handling their money - helped with my success.”
Upon Mallory’s graduation there were no full-time positions were available at Regions Bank, which is part of Regions Financial Corporation headquartered in Birmingham, AL.
In the meantime, “I worked for another bank for a while, but was called upon by my former Regions’ manager when a full-time position became available in marketing support,” she recalls.
When Mallory joined the firm, she “tried to support marketing managers regionally in different markets through corporate initiatives,” according to the financial professional, who completed her MBA while on the job and was recently promoted.
In her current role as AVP, experiential marketing and multicultural marketing, she manages partnerships with Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) via efforts on financial education, Black History Month and LBGT Pride Month campaigns and more.
“We want to ensure we support and give them specific marketing spin that they deserve. For eample, we sponsor an essay writing scholarship contest to highlight accomplishments of African-American students and help them pay for school,” details Mallory.
Future goals for her include learning as much as possible about multicultural marketing.
“I’m excited about it, as I’m able to give my personal take on it. I want to take ownership of these campaigns as much as I can. Perhaps there’s a segment we’re overlooking,” she says.
At Regions Mallory appreciates the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, both internally and externally. “It’s what led to the creation of my position,” she says.
To pay it forward, she’s an active, INROADS alumna. “Through Alabama chapters, I work to further develop some of the current INROADS students, telling them about my experience and giving them any advice that I can.”
For updated information about jobs and careers, visit regions.com/about_regions/careers.rf. Connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Ramirez Pays It Forward Professionally at T. Rowe Price
While as a sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international business at the University of Denver (CO), Cynthia Ramirez heard a speaker who impacted her career greatly.
“My interest in business came from my summer internship at MANA, a National Latina Organization. I previously had the opportunity to meet its CEO, Alma Morales Riojas, a very humble and inspirational leader within the Latino community, who offered me the position,” says Ramirez.
She spoke on the challenges she’d faced, according to Ramirez, explaining how she was often the only Latina female leader within the organizations by which she was employed.
As a result, Ramirez continues to live by this one piece of advice: “To bring others along with me as I navigate my career and to help them in any way I’m able, so they, too, can achieve their goals.”
The MANA network helped her personally, because she was able to meet several Latina women across the U.S. who were in key positions at their firms or within their communities.
“As a first-generation college student, I didn’t feel alone in this journey. These women were welcoming and shared their personal experiences with me,” says Ramirez, who went on to help others within the group as project coordinator and special events intern.
In this post, Ramirez assisted in event planning, checking in guests and keynote speakers for conferences. She learned the value of remaining professional at all times when interacting with guests.
“I was asked to help plan and organize a large gala honoring Latina women. I learned how important it is to do my best in anything I do - no matter how big or small the task. These skills and experiences benefited my career path, because I had job examples for future job interviews,” says Ramirez.
Later “I mentored Latina students and helped them to identify personal and career goals. I set up college campus tours at my and other schools with Latino college students because I wanted them to see students with a similar ethnic background to them, and view college as something obtainable. I also helped teens with the college application process,” says Ramirez, who’s still an active member with the group.
Upon graduation, Ramirez worked for Xerox as a bilingual supervisor in its Spanish department. In this role, she assisted with escalated phone calls to de-escalate client situations.
When she joined Baltimore, MD-headquartered T. Rowe Price as a bilingual customer service supervisor, she helped bilingual associates in the Spanish queue with their calls and provided them with feedback on their customer service.
“I led a few department competitions and helped associates with their professional goals. I feel this ability to help others and to lead by example is what helped me to obtain my first leadership position,” says Ramirez, who currently serves as retail investment service (RIS) supervisor.
The inclusive and supportive culture at her current employer makes working here enjoyable, according to Ramirez.
“T. Rowe Price has several business resource groups that help all associates - not just minority professionals. I’m a member of MOSAIC, which embraces associates of all ethnic backgrounds and viewpoints to bring their full selves to work to excel in their role and help move the business forward,” she says.
Along the way, mentors have been instrumental to Ramirez’s upward climb. One person demonstrated how women can have a work-life balance and still be successful. Another role model shared the importance of leveraging her strengths and encouraged her to create a plan to work toward her goals. Another helped her to ask strategic questions when receiving feedback, which proved challenging.
“I’m always open to feedback and improving in any way, however, I didn’t know how to filter through feedback I received and thought everything was something I needed to change or implement in my process,” shares Ramirez.
“I received a great approach on how to do this, but putting feedback in to one of three categories: high, medium and low.”
High would mean something that will help take her skills to the next level and something on which she should focus. Medium would mean something that could be an area of opportunity, but didn’t need to be addressed right away. Low would mean something that didn’t require attention, since it could be considered optional and wouldn’t impact her long-term success.
“Using this process has helped me continuously improve myself,” notes Ramirez.
Looking ahead, Ramirez would like to continue on the leadership path and pursue higher-level leadership roles.
“I want to continue to be in a position, where I can influence others and positively impact people’s personal and professional lives. I feel I’m successful when I’m able to make a difference in someone’s personal life, and I’d like to continue to do that in any position I’m in and pursue in the future,” she says.
For young minority professionals her best advice is to reach out to people in key positions and ask them to be your mentor.
“Share what you’re looking to get out of the mentorship and be prepared for your meetings by having topics to discuss. Ask as many people to help you navigate your career as you need,” says Ramirez.
For updated information about jobs and careers, visit www3.troweprice.com/usis/corporate/en/careers.html. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Williams Leverages Opportunities & Skills at USAA
Capitalizing on one’s gifts is a key to Brandon Williams’ success. His athletic ability on the football field kicked off his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was granted a full, endowed scholarship and played on its Division I varsity football team.
To keep up his eligibility, Williams teamed with academic advisors regularly, eventually planning for a career in broadcast journalism, with thoughts of working in college football as an announcer.
“I was good at numbers, and my uncle said, ‘Why not finance?’” says Williams, who ultimately decided on a dual major in communications and finance. The extra workload, on top of his rigorous sports commitment, taught him how to manage his time.
“You may give up time hanging out with friends and social aspects in effort to take advantage of study hall time and to get on track with where you need to be,” he observes.
While his fraternity took up most of his spare time, Williams did intern his senior year. “A former football teammate knew someone at Meryll Lynch. I gained exposure to asset classes and [to] creating an investment fund for underserved communities.”
With degree in hand, and not knowing exactly which aspect of finance he wanted to pursue, post-graduation, Williams went to work for Dollar Bank in Pittsburgh, PA, where he helped to underwrite loans.
“It was my first play in to the world of finance. I received exposure to all aspects of the bank,” he says.
He followed this with a consultancy at Stephen James Associates where he worked on a Freddie Mac account.
“I honed database and coding skills, and worked on accounting projects,” indicates Williams, who says he learned that, “You never know when opportunities may come. You must learn to align your skills with what’s current and of the future. If you did well on a particular project, then you may be the first person called upon when an opportunity opens up.”
Case in point, after his 12-month contract at Freddie Mac, Williams was one of the ones who they kept.
“I easily transitioned into the trading side, focusing on how mortgages work from an investment standpoint,” says Williams, who was also able to parlay his communication abilities. “I was able to communicate very dense things to larger audiences, and present well. Transitioning such skills to the professional space was invaluable.”
Currently planning to stay in the risk analysis area of his field, Williams is now a senior quantitative risk analyst for San Antonio, TX-based USAA.
Having achieved his MBA at George Mason University already, Williams is a candidate for his CFA Level III certification.
“The degree is an inch wide and a mile deep. You can dive deep in to investment analysis, construct investment performance statements as a financial advisor, and engage in hard-core finance,” he says.
Unfortunately, according to Williams, “education is a war - everyone’s trying to get more as an undergraduate degree, [but it’s] not always enough. Once you send your resume, you never know what could be the tiebreaking things separating you from others.”
He continues: “A lot of people I worked around discussed the CFA. It was a personal challenge, as it’s hard and takes a lot of time. I’m married with a child now, so it’s a juggle, but it’s something I can see in my rearview mirror, as the test is administered this year in June.”
Williams likes working for larger employers, he says, because there’s flexibility in being able to move around within an organization. He also plans to learn as much as he can as he considers opportunities to move into research or product development.
“You never know where an area may take you,” he says.
He’s also a member of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and within his firm, PEAK, an African American inclusivity group.
“There are events hosted quite frequently to expose things top-of-mind in those communities,” he says.
With no explicit, formal mentors, he does count his uncle for the pivotal role he played in him transitioning to finance early on.
For others interested in his field, “I don’t see representation from the African-American community. There are not a lot of people who look like me. I try to view myself and my background as assets, and that I’m bringing something unique to the table. Always prepare yourself for what you find interesting and discover what skills are being asked for by the marketplace now. You never know how and when you can use them toward places you want to go in the future,” he says.
For updated information about jobs and careers, visit usaajobs.com/career-areas. Connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
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