Winning On Wall Street

By Caroline V. Clarke

skills and analytical skills, and this investment banking thing fits all of that.”

When I walked into this firm, there were no partners who looked like me, but I was not focused on that not happening [for me]. I’d bought into a firm where I thought it could happen. At the time, I wasn’t looking at the 10- or the 15-year plan. That’s why it’s so fascinating to me now, 15 years later, that I’m still getting excited about it, frustrated by it, still liking it. Initially, I sort of saw it in two- to five-year increments, and then I would re-evaluate. I’m one of those nerdy people who every quarter stops to think, “OK, are you doing what you want to do? Are you happy?”

The turning point for me was at the four- or five-year mark when I was moving from mergers and acquisitions work into equity capital markets and realizing that I’d learned the advisor side of the business, and now I was learning the financing side of the business. That is really the bread and butter of investment banking. I think that’s when I started to say, “OK, I’m now going to really think about this on a more long-term basis.” Getting to that point, though, was tough.

Probably the most difficult period of my life was from year two to early year four in this business. I was working with a woman who was very difficult to learn from at a time in your career when, primarily, what you want and need to do is to learn. It took me a while to realize that not everybody can teach you.

There is also some expectation that you will teach yourself. I walked in here thinking, “Hey, I’m bringing the hard work, the raw intellect to the table. Now, mold me.” I never realized that I would run into someone who might not have the capacity to do that, or who was too insecure to do it. It was tough coming to understand what that means and then what you must do about it.

I remember thinking to myself, if I let this person stand in my way I’ll never get to my goals. The journey was really tough at times, but I never shed a tear on the premises, no matter what. It’s the never-let-them-see-you-sweat approach. I might go home and let go, but here, I knew I had to just keep pushing. And soon enough, she was out of the way.

It goes to show, never second-guess yourself because of someone else. And never ever think about giving up because there’s always something else around the corner. Just wait. If there’s something that you really care about, don’t give up. Keep pressing on, and you will definitely get to your goal. I know because I’m here, and she’s not.

That’s one of the reasons I spend so much time mentoring and coaching others today. Because [the road is] not that hard, but someone needs to be able to lay it

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