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"Ms. Krawcheck's boldness and determination inspire me to be a stronger woman and professional, but I wanted to learn more. I wanted to meet her and hear about her pivot from corporate into entrepreneurship. She is such a great role model for women in the professional world, especially young women, like me, entering our first jobs." — Sarah Hendrix, President, Harbert College Women in Business
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Failure isn’t fatal. Keep pushing.
Wall Street executive and Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck reiterated this advice during a special webinar, presented by Women in Business at the Harbert College. Krawcheck, who co-founded Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women, previously served as CEO at Citi Wealth Management, and Sanford C. Bernstein, and was President of Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management Division.
Krawcheck, who has been ranked No. 7 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Powerful Women, is passionate about helping women improve their financial portfolios and leveling the economic gender gap. That’s why she took a risk and founded Ellevest in 2016.
Sallie Krawcheck founded Ellevest in 2016 after serving as CEO at Citi Wealth Management and Sanford C. Bernstein.
“Investing platforms for women had been started before – but all failed,” she said. “On top of that, every large financial services company I can think of created a women’s investing initiative and they all failed, too. I argue they failed for a very simple reason – they misidentified the problem. The problem as they saw it was ‘How do we change women’s behavior?’ ‘How do we market to women?’ What we thought was … ‘maybe the product had to change.’ Maybe it’s not so much that women are risk averse. Maybe it’s because women are risk aware.”
At 29 and unsure what to do next, Krawcheck proved she wasn’t afraid of risks. A trait she attributes to her rapid rise from equity analyst to CEO at Bernstein. Krawcheck said a young professional must take risks in order to achieve a big career. “Nobody makes 100 percent of their free throws so if you are going to go for it, be prepared to have face-plants,” she added. “Failure isn’t always fatal. You just have to keep pressing.
“As an analyst, I wasn’t part of the Boys Club on Wall Street. I wasn’t getting information or getting noticed. But there were times when I was a research analyst – the only woman – you couldn’t forget me. I was able to explode in a way that very few of my peers managed. Getting the stars aligned, the right job and the right time, took tons of risks. My research was not, ‘American General reported earnings and they were a penny stronger …’ I’m like, ‘Forget that. I’m going to let everybody else publish that. My pieces of research are, ‘American General’s business is going in the toilet and here’s the analysis no one else is going to show you and why.’ It was that kind of risk-taking.
“Let’s be perfectly clear … I was fired on the front page of the Wall Street Journal not once but twice. However, all of the good stuff would not have happened without the risks I took that got me to the top.”
In order to further themselves in the workplace, Krawcheck urged women to improve their networking skills, praise others lavishly, seek sponsors rather than mentors, keep looking for fresh opportunities, choose a profession headed in the right fiscal trajectory and above all else … “take risks.”
Sarah Hendrix, President, Harbert College Women in Business
Harbert College of Business student Sarah Hendrix took a risk. As President of Women in Business, an organization that promotes leadership, professional development, diversity in the workplace and a community that supports women, Hendrix reached out to Krawcheck’s team at Ellevest to gauge the executive’s interest in speaking to the college. Persistence paid off.
“I initially reached out to Ms. Krawcheck because her professional mission aligns with the mission of Women in Business,” Hendrix said. “I've long admired her career, including her setbacks, successes, and her overall leadership. Ms. Krawcheck's boldness and determination inspire me to be a stronger woman and professional, but I wanted to learn more. I wanted to meet her and hear about her pivot from corporate into entrepreneurship. She is such a great role model for women in the professional world, especially young women, like me, entering our first jobs.
“While I was a little nervous about it, I took the initiative to reach out to Ms. Krawcheck and invite her to be a guest speaker. As you can imagine, I was so excited when she said ‘yes’ as this is the most significant milestone and event that has been hosted by Auburn's Women in Business. We're a young organization and have been wanting to host a speaker of Ms. Krawcheck's caliber that would further motivate our members.”
Harbert College Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Annette L. Ranft added, “We couldn’t be more excited to have Sallie with us. We work hard every day to fulfill our mission of producing highly-desired, job-ready and career-minded graduates, and to generate knowledge through research that drives diverse business thought and sustainable business practice. Opportunities such this one – learning from the experiences of business leaders and role models helps us deliver on our mission and our promise of providing a superior and relevant student experience.”
Ellevest is a digital-first, mission-driven investment platform for women. Ellevest is one of the fastest growing digital investment platforms and has been named #24 on CNBC’s top 50 "Disruptor" list and one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Brilliant Ideas. Learn more at Ellevest: A Money Membership for Women, by Women