Champion for Women on Wall Street
As Claudia Jury, BS ’88, planned a return to the Carnegie Mellon campus for Homecoming weekend, the Tepper School of Business asked her to address a group of undergraduate and graduate students with career advice. Over 50 individuals attended the informal “coffee chat” on Saturday, November 11, moderated by Jury’s classmate Sandra Jonas Desguin, BS ’88, founder and president of Maiden Stone Inc.
Tepper School Dean Robert Dammon opened the event by welcoming both alumnae back to campus. He highlighted Jury’s journey from the markets training program at Manufacturers Hanover Trust to being the most senior female trader at one of the world’s most influential banks, J.P. Morgan. Dammon applauded Jury’s commitment to being a champion for women on Wall Street.
He also discussed Desguin’s diverse career, entrepreneurial spirit and community service before turning the event over to her to kick off the conversation. Desguin opened the discussion by asking Jury to address what students should be mindful of in their search for a career in finance.
Jury, who is committed to developing talent, stressed that the first thing an employer would look for on an applicant’s resume is evidence of quantitative expertise. However, she noted that interviewers are typically also looking for passion. “Have goals. Be driven,” she said. “At the onset of your career, you have clear short-term goals. But you should always have long-term career aspirations in mind.”
She assured attendees that their Carnegie Mellon education uniquely qualifies them for a role in financial services. “The reason Carnegie Mellon is so relevant today is innovation,” Jury remarked. With the rise of financial technology, she said, banks are competing with Google and Facebook. “The financial industry is running businesses that are very technical,” she said. Amid the activity surrounding Brexit in 2016, she recounted, J.P. Morgan systems “allowed us to transact at a rate in excess of 1,000 foreign exchange trades per second,” a rate human traders could never have matched.
During the conversation, Jury also spoke to the importance of being engaged in an investment club as a student to enhance preparation, interest and expertise. “When we ask you, ‘What’s your view on the Fed right now? ... you’ll have an answer,” she said.
In addition to developing informed opinions, Jury advised students to hone networking skills to support their personal growth. In particular, she said, it’s important to seek opportunities to find a sponsor early in one’s career. In such a relationship, she stressed that the junior employee should have something to offer that can add relevant value for the sponsor.
This professional network can be particularly beneficial to women and minorities in finance. She acknowledged that Wall Street in general has historically been perceived slow to promote diversity, but that J.P. Morgan specifically has been doing “a spectacular job.”
Both Jury and Desguin remarked that there were also benefits to being a woman in a male-dominated industry. “Being a woman differentiates you initially,” Desguin said. It gives you the opportunity to stand out and be remembered.
Jury wrapped up the conversation by taking questions from the audience. Student queries included advice on finding sponsors and moving up the career ladder. Jury called upon her husband, Stephen — also a managing director at J.P. Morgan — and Desguin to offer their own perspectives, and drew upon her own experiences to offer realistic career guidance.