VP Nadia Quarles Relies on Her Intuition to Take Risks She Won’t Regret

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is diversity and inclusion strategist Nadia Quarles.

Nadia M. Quarles, Esq.

Title Assistant Vice President for Business Diversity at the University of Chicago

My first job was a salesperson at Woolworth’s five-and-dime store on Main Street in New Rochelle, New York.

My big break came when … I’ve had multiple big breaks in life. One that I am most proud of is my work to diversify the University of Chicago’s endowment with minority and women-owned money managers. Thirteen years ago, I created a Professional Services Symposium where I invite diverse professional services firms to the University to meet with our vice presidents and other key leadership. As a result, in 2010, the Endowment Office hired our first African American money managers. Due to the success of my work, I was promoted from Director to Assistant Vice President for Business Diversity.  The Symposium has since become a national model, and I’ve gained the trust and respect of University leadership as well as Trustees. To date, a total of 26 minority and women-owned managers are now investing endowment funds for the University of Chicago.

I’ve had to work hardest at passing the Bar Exam. I’ve never been a very good standardized test taker.

I never imagined I would be more fit in my 50s than I’ve ever been. I’m living a healthier lifestyle and I actually enjoy working out.

I wish I’d learned how to make self-care a priority sooner.

The risk I regret not taking is …Thus far in my life, there isn’t a risk that I regret not taking. For me, it’s important to assess risks and determine if a specific risk is even worth taking. I tend to ask a lot of questions before taking risks and I have a great sounding board of friends (my personal Board of Directors) that help me weigh pros and cons. I’ve learned to rely on my intuition and trust my gut feelings as well. If a risk doesn’t feel right, I have not regretted not doing it.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, it would be spent chilling with Barack and Michelle at their vacation home in Hawaii; sitting by the pool, drinking their favorite champagne, eating barbecue and pineapples, while listening to Barack’s Spotify summer playlist!

I take a dose of Melatonin before bed and I keep my cat and cellphone out of my bedroom. So, nothing keeps me up at night.

When I’m struggling, after calling on Jesus and praying, I say to myself, it’s going to be okay, this is just another bump in the road and like everything else this too shall pass. You got this!

I am unapologetically always showing up as my authentic self.

Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.