Career Advice from Six Women at American Century

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

The best career advice I have received is 1) always invest in yourself and your future, and 2) sometimes you need a little faith to carry you through.

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

Financial success is much more likely when you get in the habit of saving from an early age and be proactive with your personal finances (not passive).

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

I think many women who enter a male-dominated industry feel a need to conform to the "male way" of doing things instead of simply doing then the best way we feel we can.

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

Be ready to work long hours early in your career, and look for an environment that promotes professional development.

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

My biggest challenge has been learning the need to (and how to!) advocate for my own career advancement. I can’t simply rest on my laurels and wait for advancement to happen.

What do you know now that you wish you knew as a new college graduate or in an earlier stage of your career?

I would have liked to have known the value of having a mentor early in my career and the importance of being able to sell one's ideas to those around you.

Carla Cantreva-Baessler, VP & Sr. Investment Analyst

 

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

Relationships matter. Building a strong rapport with your manager, peers, and clients is critical for success. Execute at the highest levels in your existing role and create a track record of impact on the business.

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

It can be challenging to find a mentor/sponsor and ally who is willing to provide candid feedback on performance, assist you in navigating the organization for success, and be your champion when opportunities for growth develop.

Karen Heath-Wade, SVP, Global Head of Client Strategy and Service

 

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

Pick an area and become an expert in it. Sometimes it may be obvious what the area should be, and sometimes you might have to seek out a specialty. It almost certainly will involve extra work—doing more than required to solve a specific issue, thinking beyond the immediate. But it will pay off in the end, both by making you more valuable to your employer, and by the sense of empowerment you get from being the go-to person on that matter.

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

Live within your means. Don’t get sucked in by what others are wearing, or vacations they are taking, or houses they are buying—live within YOUR means. If you do that at the beginning, and hold off on the “splurges,” you will achieve financial independence sooner, and that is its own reward. And THEN you can splurge!

Janet Nash, SVP Deputy General Counsel

 

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

Plan your career five years out. Where would you like to be? Work backwards to identify what experiences you need to get there. Otherwise, you risk drifting and simply hoping you will get there. Find mentors and build trusted relationships; for me, some are over 20 years and still in place today.

What do you know now that you wish you knew as a new college graduate or in an earlier stage of your career?

Life and people will, unfortunately, at times discriminate against you—sometimes overtly and sometimes not. But you will experience this. Develop skills early to handle and push through.

Jamie Patel, SVP & Chief Technology Officer

 

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

Simple advice I received from my mom and dad: “Find a good company with good benefits, work hard, be patient and success will come.”

Both of my parents were children of the Great Depression and exemplified hard work. My dad worked for Santa Fe Railroad for 32 years, while my mom stayed at home to raise 12 children. They were well aware of the value of working for an established company that can provide a career path and take care of their employees.

The key is to be patient. Success does not happen overnight. If ever I was frustrated with the progression of my career, my parents would remind me, “You don’t realize how lucky you are to work for a company like American Century. There are people all over the city that would trade places with you in a minute. Just continue to work hard and people will notice.”

And 29 years later, as always, my parents were right.

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

So. Many. Things! Never give up; nothing lasts forever. Be your own advocate because no one has a stronger voice than you. Always try to find balance between work and life. Respect everyone. But the bottom line is this: BE FEARLESS!

Christy Poe, VP Regional Retirement Consultant

 

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

  1. Believe in yourself and be confident.
  2. Ask for a seat at the table.
  3. Speak up, particularly on the work that you have done.
  4. Put your hand up for new challenging projects.
  5. Stay hungry – continue to improve your skill set (certification programs such as CFA or CAIA can help provide structured continuing education).

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

Some of the issues I may have faced in yester years are improving quite a bit, so please use only ones that resonate with you.

  • One key issue I had observed was that there can be conversations that happen after an in-office meeting in more casual networks, where critical decisions are made that may leave women out.
  • The ranks of women seem to be thinner with seniority. I believe having a support system in all stages of one’s career is very helpful.
  • There was a feeling that as women were, in many cases, one of two earners for the family—that promotions and seniority were more important for the single bread winner of the family, most often male colleagues.

Here are some additional thoughts to keep in mind that I wrestled with:

  • Do the best you can and don’t feel guilty. Particularly when juggling careers and family, finding balance can be very difficult (it may seem like a fantasy!). Trust that you will prioritize appropriately. Guilt that you could have done more, or that you missed out on something, can really wear you down. Finding mentors who can relate to what you are going through could be helpful.

Vidya Rajappa, VP, Sr. PM & Head of MAS Portfolio Management

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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.