By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
Jacqueline Allen, SVP of Finance, Equities Reporting, North America at Citi, said the achievement she is most proud of is going back to school for her MBA. She explained, “I finally took the leap after having breakfast with the CEO of Equities at Citi. It was three years ago, when Citi was entering the most tumultuous time of the downturn. The message I took away was that I needed to be the best I could be to propel my career. So I took inventory of myself and realized that to compete in the changing environment, I needed more education.”
Now that Allen has completed her MBA, she is looking for the next opportunity on the horizon.
Career Path in Finance and Equities
Allen completed her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University and started her career in the finance department at the Bank of New York (BNY) fifteen years ago. She then left the bank for IBM, but after a year and a half, she returned to New York and was recruited to Citi by a former BNY manager. She transferred to the equities division, where it was her responsibility to liaise between the finance division and the traders on the desk.
A year ago, Allen earned her MBA, while working full-time at Babson College F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
She explained, “Now, after supporting the equities division for five years, I am excited about Citi and the ongoing opportunities ahead that will allow me to leverage the skills and knowledge I’ve gained from the MBA program. It’s exciting.”
LGBT at Citi
Allen, who is the co-chair of Citi’s North America Markets Pride Committee said, “When I entered Citi, it was important for me to be out. When I joined Citi in 2001, Citi was operating at full speed in implementing its diversity strategy. I got involved because I was an out employee and it allowed me to take on assignments without fearing anything will hold me back.”
Participating in the network has enabled her to advance her career as well. She explained, “It’s allowed me to sit in front of senior management on matters for the community.”
In her capacity as co-chair of the North America Markets Pride Committee, Allen said she is very involved with LGBT activities at Citi. “We’re working on creating an industry-leading policy model for diversity training, including revising the language in our training videos to better inform employees.
Allen also noted a recent panel Citi hosted featuring Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) and an expert on LGBT issues in education, including bullying. “Dr. Byard spoke to employees about the impact of bullying on the workforce. The statistics show that many young people don’t make it to the workforce because of bullying.”
Women in Banking
The biggest challenge for women in the industry is a lack of confidence, meaning they accept what is given and don’t push for more,” said Allen.
She advised young women beginning their careers to ask lots of questions. Additionally, they should focus on building relationships. “Network with your peers and senior women. Be visible and be relevant. Volunteer for work no one wants.”
Women who are advancing in their careers should be vocal about what they want. “Ask for more and bring someone with you,” she said.
Allen recently participated in a 6-month leadership development program for high potential VP/Directors. “It taught us leadership skills, how to enhance our executive presence, strengthen strategic thinking, refine communication skills and how to create your own development program through ownership of your career.”
She continued, “The most important part of the program was access to senior leaders and personal coaching.”
In Her Personal Time
In her personal time, Allen enjoys entertaining friends and going to the beach. “We love Fire Island – it’s very peaceful there, and there are lots of LGBT families and allies,” she explained.