Amy Hertenstein - September 2019
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Meet Chen Rao, our July 2019 FWA Member of the Month, and see what she is doing in the financial community.
Member of the Month
Please tell us about your FWA journey so far?
I connected with the FWA when I was working at BMO Capital Markets and was nominated for the Pacesetters program’s class in 2016. The Pacesetters program connected me with over a dozen women who were at similar stages in their careers, and who could relate to the changes in skills necessary for further career progression at the VP level and above.
I really enjoyed being part of this program and got a lot out of it: I found comradery with a group of women I grew close with, gained skills I had not realized I needed, and came to understand the benefits of getting more involved with the FWA. These women are my peers in the industry and I could share with them relevant successes and challenges in my career and seek advice in a safe space. It also helped me develop personally and get out of my shell, which was critical to my own career growth.
What sets the FWA apart?
I’ve always volunteered and I really enjoy the fact that the FWA offers many different opportunities to give back, as well as providing opportunities for growth. The Pacesetters program was unique in that it focuses on the non-technical skills that are so critical to take one’s career to the next level. Additionally, I am a huge advocate of the Back To Business program, particularly having worked alongside one of the participants.
The FWA has endless opportunities to get involved. These volunteering opportunities give us many ways to lead and develop our leadership skills, whether that’s leading committees, mentoring, or being on the Board. I’m entering my 4th year as a mentor for the FWA Baruch Mentorship program, and now it’s my opportunity to give back to the Pacesetters program as one of this year’s co-chairs.
Tell us about you and your career.
I am from Ohio and moved to NYC after graduation. I always wanted to work in Finance and joined JP Morgan‘s Investment Banking team in 2006. After surviving the financial crisis relatively unscathed, I decided to take a career break in 2011 and went backpacking across Europe for 6 months. I was at a point where I wanted to step back and figure out what I wanted next, and it was the best thing I ever did. When I started my career, I was often told that I didn’t speak up enough in meetings. Going backpacking to 19 countries (the majority of which I didn’t speak the language) forced me out of my shell and helped me ‘read the room’ when I went back to work.
When I returned to NYC, I joined a family office to work on a project for 9 months before joining BMO Capital Markets on their Equity Capital Markets team. In January, I joined Stifel Financial Group, a leading middle-market investment bank, as a Director in their Financial Sponsors Group.
What are the top takeaways from your career journey so far?
Don’t be afraid to take a risk and get yourself out of your comfort zone.
If you are looking for a mentor, make sure to establish a personal as well as a professional relationship -- it creates a much more powerful experience.
Although planning is good, don’t let it stand in the way of opportunities that arise.
Who is a source of inspiration and strength in your life and why?
My mother has always been one of my largest sources of inspiration, and a major reason I decided to pursue a career in finance. She worked for Bank One/JPMorgan for over 30 years in various capacities. Retired in 2008, she has spent time since volunteering for various non-profits, including one that pairs seasoned executives with start-ups in need of expertise. Whenever I have any reservations about my career she’s always there with just the right piece of advice to keep me going – e.g. “it’s not personal, it’s business”, “bad bosses come and go, but remember them – it will make you a better boss some day”, etc – and for that I will always be grateful.
Interested in Getting Involved?
To learn more about membership and how to get involved as an FWA member, contact:
Marie-Helene Kennedy-Payen – Chair, Membership