Jennifer Conway, MBA’18, majored in economics in college and then worked at high-profile firms in New York and Connecticut. She worked hard, introduced new ideas and reached a level of independence.
Then she left.
She moved away from the world’s financial center to earn an MBA at the Kelley School of Business.
“In my previous role, I was practically running my own show, but I still felt stuck between the back office and client services,” Conway says. “I craved a more analytical role—and I knew an MBA would help me pivot and catapult my career.”
Since coming to Kelley, Conway has taken advantage of the personal branding and career development resources, and she’s figured out some fundamental truths about herself and the male-dominated finance world.
1. Finance is huge—find your place.
The finance industry is an ever-changing field, with many different potential roles. “Kelley helped me know my options,” says Conway. “I discovered that private wealth and alternative investments are areas where I can learn individuals’ stories and build portfolios based on their needs and desires.”
By exploring different options—“I talked with… well, everybody at Kelley!”—Conway now has a clear focus and is refining her expertise.
2. Trust is part of your brand.
Conway has learned that finance is all about relationships. “Finance is emotional,” she explains. “People are scared and they want you to help them.”
To gain trust with both clients and colleagues, Conway knows there’s no substitute for showing up and doing the work, whether that means following complex global economic developments or simply staying on top of emails.
3. Learn by teaching.
As a financial planner or advisor, you’re also a teacher—it’s your job to explain financial principles to clients and help them understand their portfolio. In communicating those concepts to clients, Conway came to understand them more clearly herself.
She continues to fine-tune her finance knowledge with mentoring opportunities at Kelley. She teaches undergraduate women about the importance of setting up a budget after graduation.
4. Own your passions.
Finance is Conway’s vocation. But her real passion? Horses. She thought she’d have to give up riding in order to succeed in another profession. But she still rides several times a week.
“Riding horses is also all about trust. The horse and rider need to trust each other in order to make the relationship work,” Conway says. “Finance is the same way.”
5. Be brave.
In the male-dominated arena of finance, it can be tempting for women to sit back quietly or else switch careers. In those moments, Conway coaches herself to be brave and speak up.
“Sometimes finance seems too hard, or too male,” she explains. “But I don’t want to say, ‘What if?’ I want to say, ‘I did it.’”
This summer, Conway will put all of these lessons into practice in her internship at JP Morgan Private Bank in New York. Eventually, she hopes to run a private wealth firm with other financial professionals who share her approach: “Put people first and make money second.”
Jennifer Conway is a first-year candidate in the Kelley Full-Time MBA Program studying private wealth and capital markets.