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Configuring Your Future
Once you configure your role in the banking, financial services, and insurance industry, you can ensure your future.
The banking, financial services, and insurance industry is more than just number-crunching. In fact, there are numerous career opportunities to pursue in this industry.
What’s more, according to EfficientLearning.com, the finance industry is seeing unprecedented growth, in the U.S. and around the world. “And the industry extends far beyond Wall Street investment banks with professionals working in insurance, risk management, compliance, government, and a host of other areas,” it reports.
A banking, financial services, and insurance career can ensure your future, and provide you with economic security, career stability, and the chance to travel and meet people from all over the world.
Meet a few Hispanic professionals who have forged their own paths in this industry. Their dedication to the field and to others just might open your eyes to the possibilities. Enjoy their stories, and glean sage career advice.
Molina Engages Bank of America’s Diverse Clientele
Bank of America’s commitment to the Hispanic Community has been a draw to Carla Molina.
“Bank of America has been in the business of connecting with our Hispanic clients in relevant ways for decades,” she explains.
And when asked if she considered herself a Hispanic leader, Molina, senior vice president, external communications, answers: “I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a trailblazer. I’m honored to work for a company that sees diversity and inclusion as business imperatives.”
In fact, she considers Bank of America to be the true trailblazer, as, for example, the company has been engaging with clients in their native languages for decades.
Molina, who’s based in Austin, TX, also points to the company’s diversified workforce. “There’s such a diverse range of teammates working here - women make up more than 50% of our global workforce; more than 45% of our U.S.-based workforce is racially or ethnically diverse, and we’re one of only four S&P 100 companies with six or more women on our board of directors.”
Molina’s just one example of how Bank of America mirrors the communities it serves. She started with Bank of America in 2006 and has an interesting story about her prior experience with the company.
“Beforehand, Bank of America was one of the clients I served at the agency where I worked, along with several other Fortune 500 companies,” she relates.
“What you might find surprising is that I actually found the bank to be my most demanding client! Recommendations weren’t enough without bulletproof rationale; there was an insatiable appetite for fresh ideas, but these could not be implemented without buy-in from a broad range of stakeholders.”
Molina found the challenge refreshing and rewarding, and rose to it every time, leading to strong results. “I knew there was no better place for me to continue to learn and grow my career. Not only were the people some of the sharpest in the industry, but they were kind and personally invested in my professional development and career progression,” she shares.
In her current role Molina leads Bank of America’s external communications efforts including media relations, social media and influencer engagement in more than 90 markets across the U.S. Additionally, she helps share information about what makes Bank of America a great place to work, she notes, “so that we can attract talent to our company. And we also highlight the amazing volunteer work that so many of the bank’s employees are involved in.”
Molina cites her parents and grandparents as among her role models. Her grandparents left Nicaragua and start a new life in the U.S., at a late stage of their lives, and her parents encouraged her “to dream big and serve others.”
She adds: “Throughout my life I’ve observed qualities that I admire in others, and I do my best to emulate these in my personal and work life.”
Personally, Molina serves as the executive sponsor for HOLA (Hispanic-Latino Organization for Leadership and Advancement) in Austin. And through LEAD for Women, she points out, “I’ve hosted sessions on public speaking, and also collected and sorted clothes for Dress for Success.
Speaking of success and preparing for it, Molina believes that since, globally, technology advancement connects us more than ever before, knowing more than one language, such as Spanish, can be key to your career success.
As she explains: “In countries outside the U.S., many people learn other languages, particularly English, and I really think that as Americans, we, too, should learn the languages of our neighboring countries. Speaking more than one language affords more opportunities to make deeper connections, break down cultural barriers, and create better understanding among people and nations.”
When job-hunting, Molina further advises to not be afraid to let your personality shine through. “It’s important to be professional, but that shouldn’t get in the way of bringing your full self to work,” she concludes.
Bank of America is headquartered in Charlotte, NC. You can learn more about job opportunities by visiting careers.bankofamerica.com. Follow on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Cusimano Thrives as a Trusted Adviser at Citi
Vice President, Trade Market Manager Erika Cusimano has been with Citi for 13 years. The journey that led her to her Citi career path is a personal one.
Cusimano was born and raised in Northern New Jersey, where, she says, “my school system was not very impressive.”
However, she continues, “my steno/typing teacher - a woman to whom I’m indebted - organized a field trip to the Berkeley School (renamed Berkeley College) in New York City. I found the school interesting, so I applied, was accepted, and received an Associate of Arts in applied science to become a secretary.”
The school had a job placement program, she recalls, with connections to many organizations in different industries.
“After several interviews I was offered a position as a research assistant in the equity research department by a major broker dealer firm and have since remained in the financial services/banking industry,” says Cusimano, adding, “My personal story of adversity and the extraordinary mentors in my life have made me passionate about empowering/elevating women in corporate America.”
It’s also led her to become a public speaker and organizer of grassroots luncheons at Citi. “Initially the luncheon participants were women within my trade organization. However, it’s now expanded across many other businesses within Citi, including allies - not just women. We’ve had amazing senior speakers (both female and male) who’ve inspired so many people, including myself. Sharing that inspiration fills my soul with joy.”
Today, as a trade market manager within Citi’s treasury and trade solutions organization working in New York, NY, Cusimano supports 20-plus technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) institutional clients by developing high-impact strategies to execute successful trade programs, such as supplier finance and accounts receivables.
“I act as a trusted adviser and provide guidance to navigate shifts in their needs and/or market conditions. My portfolio consists of average gross assets of $10 billion, revenue of $35 million.”
Recently Cusimano had an intriguing and surprising conversation with two clients. “After the end of one of our meetings, the male clients and I began discussing the value of culture and diversity,” she shares.
“To my surprise, they were as passionate as I was about increasing diversity, specifically for women. They connected me with colleagues who are leading efforts in this area, and now I’m working with a female Citi senior leaders to organize a women’s event with people from both organizations.”
Cusimano thinks it’s important for all finance employees to volunteer for projects outside their desk job. In addition, when at the office, “it’s critical to be exceptional in your role; however, times have changed since I entered the workforce. Getting visibility and building a strong network are equally important, if not more, in your career growth.”
Says Cusimano of the positive impact she has on others: “It gives me great pleasure to represent Citi as a Hispanic leader. The commitment Citi has to hire, retain and promote Hispanic talent makes me proud to work at a company that recognizes and values our contributions.”
Headquartered in New York, NY, Citi posts jobs online at jobs.citi.com. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Glassdoor.
Ayala Coaches Colleagues at Strategies for Wealth
How did Edwin Ayala enter the field of finance, banking and insurance? By accident, he recalls.
“I was a computer programmer at a life insurance company, and after one year there I decided I needed to do something else, and I transferred to the new business/underwriting department where I learned about life and disability insurance,” details the chief development officer at Strategies for Wealth.
That’s when he realized why he wanted to stay in the field. “I realized how many people weren’t confident in their financial future, and I knew I could be of value to those people,” says Ayala.
Today he’s based in New York, NY at Strategies for Wealth, an agency of The Guardian Life Insurance Company. And he’s been with the company since the late 1980s.
“My role is to oversee the onboarding, training, coaching and development ad of all new associates for the first years of their career,” outlines Ayala. “My main role is to have one-on-one coaching sessions with our associates where I help them focus on goal clarity, mindset and blind spots.”
Believe it or not, his job is more than just numbers, numbers, numbers - the social aspect is critical, too. “My job is creative because I consistently have to work on finding the correct method to motivate and coach each person as everyone is different,” he relates.
“Being able to help our associates become successful by speaking directly to what motivates them as an individual is crucial, and I must create something different for each person I engage with.”
Ayala credits a colleague for his personal and professional achievements. “My role model is Ron Rosbruch, who was the senior partner at Strategies for Wealth when I began at the firm, and who is currently the partner emeritus.”
He was Ayala’s mentor who taught him “to focus on who I want to be while I’m doing what I’m doing.”
According to Ayala, “Ron led by example, always seeing what’s possible in everyone; staying present and making people feel you’re the only person in the room regardless of what else is going on. He saw the potential in me and helped me tap into that potential.”
Ayala himself is also a role model; he always explains to new young recruits that there are “two sides” to finance along with many different career paths. To clarify: “One is the back-end side - the person who’s interested in doing research and analysis. The other side is the client-facing/sales side. Once recent college grads get clear which role suits them, then the career opportunities becoming clearer.”
Being a Hispanic leader in the world of finance, says Ayala, can be “challenging” as there are not many Hispanic Leaders.
“I’ve always focused on being a role model and carrying myself in a way that other minorities can see and think to themselves, ‘This is someone I’d like to emulate.’ I tell my story to other minorities of how I grew up so they can see that if I can be in this position, then so can they,” he concludes.
Strategies for Wealth, part of Guardian Life, has New York offices in Manhattan, Rye Brook, and Jericho, and New England offices in Providence, RI and Framingham, MA. Learn about job opportunities at strategiesforwealth.com/careers. Follow on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Leon’s Passion Aligns with Wells Fargo’s Business Needs
In 2005, Xochitl Leon, senior vice president, Hispanic segment strategy leader, Wells Fargo & Company, graduated from Harvard Kennedy School with a master’s degree in public policy. “My thesis focused on international money transfers, and the role of cross-border payments in relation to family support and economic development overseas,” she recalls.
And it was Wells Fargo’s burgeoning focus on this that drew her to the company. “I was attracted to Wells Fargo because of the company’s growing business in money transfers. The company was seeking talent to lead the development of their customer dashboards and consumer insights for remittance services.”
Leon’s personal passion and interests directly aligned to Wells Fargo’s business needs, and gave her the chance to return to her native California and be closer to family. And today she’s based in San Francisco, CA.
In her current role, Leon is responsible for developing and activating Wells Fargo’s business strategy to drive market share, revenue growth, and brand reputation with the Hispanic consumer group.
“A key component is creating marketing programming, including strategic planning, end-to-end execution and budgeting. I lead the development of consumer-centric marketing strategies for brand, and financial products and services by collaborating across the company with key partners,” she explains.
“I also lead the in-language enterprise strategy, including the Spanish-language integration across the company.”
Most recently, Leon - who’s been with the company for almost 15 years - led a Hispanic design target team research “to advance our focus on understanding the needs of the Hispanic community. The result was the culmination of focused efforts by various partners across the organization.”
She adds: “We have diverse segment expertise across the company that makes this work possible. The scope ranged from conducting quantitative analysis and fielding qualitative research to synthesizing key findings and translating the findings into clear actions for marketing leadership.”
For example, she explains, “our research showed the Hispanic Millennial is more similar in worldview, outlook on life and approach to Hispanic Gen Z and Gen X groups than to the non-Hispanic Millennial.”
Thus, culture and ethnicity play a much more prominent role than age in determining Hispanic consumer attitudes and behaviors. “Rich findings like this allow us to design products and services that meet the needs of our Hispanic consumers,” she points out.
Leon further notes that the Wells Fargo Latino leaders programs offers team member participants the chance to practice and model leadership skills necessary for success in a diverse business environment, and gain working knowledge of leadership styles.
“Participants learn how to bridge the gap with mainstream American business cultures while retaining Latino culture and values,” she says.
Outside the office, when the chance arises, she participates in various forums with young students from UnidosUS and UNCF. “I’m always happy to share how I began my career at Wells Fargo, the importance of internships, doing what you love and a career that you’re happy to wake up to every day.”
Her parting career advice is this: “Be open to trying new projects and experiences. It’s difficult to know what you love or don’t love if you’ve never been exposed. Roll up your sleeves and step outside of your comfort zone.”
Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. Search for job opportunities at wellsfargo.com/careers. Follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
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