Career Inspiration from Six Women at American Century

Building a successful career, and a robust savings account, is a challenge for anyone. It helps to learn from people who have done it. Before National Women’s History Month comes to an end tomorrow, we’re sharing advice collected from six leaders of the many successful women who work at American Century.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

“Three thoughts come to mind. First, trust your gut instinct. If it does not feel right, it probably isn’t. Second, do something every day that scares you. Constantly learn. And third, through observation of my parents who grew a successful business together, work hard and persevere. All things are possible.”

Amy Shelton SVP & Chief Compliance Officer

As young women begin their careers, what is one thing they can do to lay the groundwork for financial success?

“This is pretty basic common-sense advice, but it will make all the difference in the world. Create a budget, and make saving and investing for retirement a line item in that budget (alongside your other necessities) and use credit cards for convenience—not for living outside your means. Pay off your full balances monthly.”

Jean Wade SVP, Investment Operations & Treasurer

What is the biggest challenge for women entering a male-dominated industry?

"At the more junior or entry-level positions, the split between women and men is close to even. Unfortunately, we do continue to see a gap at the more senior corporate or executive level in this industry. One way to address this directly is through credentials that level the playing field. The CFA exam, for example, is a notoriously difficult exam with very low passing rates. Completing that charter takes the question of ability off of the table. The same would be true of an MBA. These types of programs provide an unbiased checkmark of your capabilities."

Sandra Testani Director, Product Management

If a female college student asked you for advice on how to start a finance career, what would you tell her?

“I would start out by acknowledging that ‘finance’ is a broad category of possible careers, including investment banking, asset management, corporate finance, accounting, sales and marketing—and the list goes on. The advantage of a career in finance is being able to leverage your own particular strengths and interests into a long and generally well-paying career.

If math and statistics are your thing, there's a job for you. If communications and marketing are your interests, there's a job for you. For those with aspirations in investment management, the increasing reliance on quantitative tools means that a curriculum of mathematics, finance, statistics and programming will make you attractive to prospective employers immediately out of a four-year degree. Take a look at the Masters of Financial Engineering program at UC Berkeley. These are the skills being emphasized in this highly sought-after degree.”

Nancy Pilotte VP Client Portfolio Manager

What has been one of the biggest challenges of your career so far?

“A challenge is also a great opportunity. Some years ago, I accepted a move from running a 75-person department to become an individual contributor again. I am sure many perceived it as a ‘demotion’ or a ‘step backward,’ but I really wanted to participate in the initiatives that role would provide. I was able to collaborate on high-profile projects, and it set the way for another role a few years later. It also activated my succession plan, so a close colleague got a great opportunity as well. I highly recommend looking out—not always up—for opportunities.”

Diane Gallagher VP, Client Marketing

What do you know now that you wish you knew as a new college graduate?

"I wish I knew how much hard work and perseverance it takes to excel and get noticed. Working 12+ hour days and going into the office on weekends were common occurrences for many, many years. But once you build the reputation for being hardworking and a problem-solver, opportunities will continue to knock on your door.”

Cleo Chang SVP, Head of Alternative Investments

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The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.