July 3rd, 2014 | 6:00 am

Happy Independence Day!

iStock_000001913448XSmallDear Readers,

The Glass Hammer is celebrating this Fourth of July with a short publishing break. For our U.S. readers, we hope you are able to enjoy some down time as well. For the rest of our great readership, we will be back on Monday the 14th with more profiles, articles, and network events for you!

In the mean time, here are some of our favorite articles in 2014:

  • Thought Leaders: Donna Parisi on the Derivatives Industry
  • Black Women in Business: An Update on Progress
  • Op-Ed: Why What Your Company Does The Other 364 Days of the Year Beyond International Women’s Day is What Matters
  • Asian-American Women and the Bamboo Ceiling
  • Dare to Compete: Leadership Lessons From Hillary Clinton
  • Are you a writer or an expert in the industry and would like to become a Glass Hammer writer? Contact [email protected] to discuss opportunities and learn more information about becoming part of the stellar TGH team!

    And don’t forget to check out our Facebook page, group, twitter page, and subscribe to our newsletter in the meantime!

    July 2nd, 2014 | 6:00 am

    The Glass Hammer’s 7th Annual Top Women on the Buy-Side Breakfast

    Businesswoman Giving a PresentationBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

    The main discussion at last week’s Top Women on the Buy-Side event for senior women in investment management focused on the evolution of the industry following the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent market recovery. But perhaps the strongest statements centered on the importance of networking for top-level women in the space.

    The sold out event – hosted in New York by The Glass Hammer – was the 7th annual networking breakfast and panel in the popular series and was moderated by Donna Parisi, partner and co-head of the asset management group at the law firm Shearman & Sterling. Panelists included Nanette Buziak, managing director and head of equity trading at Voya Investment Management; Daphne Karydas, senior equity analyst and co-portfolio manager at The Boston Company; Vivian Lau, partner at Serengeti Asset Management; and Susan Soh, partner and global head of marketing and client services at Perella Weinberg Partners.

    Challenges and Opportunities in 2014
    Donna Parisi opened the dialogue by commenting on the low yield environment and noting that just the day before the event the Fed announced that amid declining unemployment, it would keep short-term interest rates low for the time being.

    Liquidity was on the panelists’ minds, as well as market competition and when asked what challenges and opportunities lay ahead, the panelists eagerly began the discussion.

    “There’s still a lot that needs to be repaired in the US, but US equities look cheap on a valuation basis compared to other asset classes on a global basis” Buziak said. She continued, “There’s a lot of pressure on fees right now, and in equities, we’re seeing competition from ETFs and index funds.”

    Speaking from the alternatives perspective, Soh said, “While ETFs may pose a challenge for some, we believe it’s been an interesting opportunity because it’s created more demand for alternative products in the form of liquid alts, which is great for firms like ours.” Meanwhile, she continued, “In light of the low interest rate environment we’re seeing, hedge fund managers are finding it more difficult to generate the outsize returns that they have historically. There’s a greater focus on yield, current income and niche opportunities where one can generate outsized returns.”

    Karydas noted that, especially in a difficult environment, being creative is important. But she encouraged attendees to avoid what she called “style drift,” where some portfolio managers are pursuing new strategies to drive returns even though they might be outside the bounds of what clients initially signed up for.

    “You have to be true to what you say you are doing, especially in a bad year,” she said.

    Customers are demanding more transparency, Lau agreed. “Investors want to understand what they are paying for,” she said. Heightened regulations are part of this trend, but so is the desire for differentiation. “They want to know: are you delivering returns in a fashion I can’t get anywhere else?”

    Keep reading »

    July 1st, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Sallie Krawcheck and Pax World Offer Women’s Global Equality Fund

    iStock_000003731985XSmallBy Beth Senko

    Women’s financial clout is growing and Sallie Krawcheck and Pax World are partnering to invest in the trend by investing in the very companies that are paving the way for women’s success.

    In June, Pax World Management LLC and Ellevate Asset Management LLC announced that they have entered into a partnership agreement to manage and distribute the first and only mutual fund in the United States that focuses on investing in companies that are global leaders in advancing women. The fund, Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, is a successor fund to the Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund.

    Krawcheck formed Ellevate Asset Management LLC (formerly 85 Broads) with impact investing and asset management executive Allyson McDonald. Ellevate Asset has an ownership investment in the new effort (Pax Ellevate Management LLC) and Krawcheck will sit on the board of trustees of the Fund.

    Pax World President and CEO Joe Keefe gave The Glass Hammer additional insight into the new fund, its strategy, and the opportunity for investors.

    The Glass Hammer: The Pax World Women’s Global Equality Fund was re-launched in 2010 with some changes. Is this an evolutionary step, or is this a new direction?

    Joe Keefe: The shareholders of the Pax World Global Women’s Equality Fund approved a merger into the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, which was formally launched on June 4. The major difference between the predecessor fund and the new fund is that the prior fund was actively managed (that is, a portfolio manager actively bought and sold stocks) whereas the re-launched fund follows an index-based strategy (that is, the fund buys and holds a fixed basket of stocks). We had long felt that an index-based strategy might be the best way to measure the contributions and capture the investment returns associated with gender diversity in business, but no such index existed. So, we built one. The Pax Global Women’s Leadership Index – a customized index calculated by MSCI – is comprised of the most highly-rated companies in the world in advancing women’s leadership on boards and in executive management, as rated by Pax World Gender Analytics. The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund invests in the 400 plus companies comprising that index. So, in one sense this is an evolution and in another it’s a new departure. Certainly, we have built the first and only index comprised of, and launched the first and only mutual fund investing in, the most highly-rated companies in the world in advancing women’s leadership.

    TGH: The Pax Ellevate fund uses the term index, but is it seeking to perform relative to the index or actually replicate the index?

    JK: The fund actually follows what some call an enhanced index or smart beta strategy. The index is a market capitalization-weighted index. The fund invests in all 406 companies in the index but gives added weight to companies with higher gender diversity scores, so the company weightings in the fund are different than the weightings in the index. Research suggests that where women are better represented on boards and in executive management, companies often display stronger long-term financial performance. The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund is premised on that research. Now, you will be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the market as a whole, on the one hand, and the best companies for advancing women, on the other. Now, if you agree that women should be better represented in corporate leadership, you have an opportunity to invest in those companies where they are indeed better represented. We hope, over time, to be able to demonstrate that these companies with greater gender diversity in leadership are actually better long-term investments.

    TGH: Standards for gender-positive practices vary by country and industry. Is the goal to pick only the best companies worldwide, or will the investments be examined relative to local/industry standards?

    JK: We do make some adjustments based on local/regional standards, although, with respect to industry and sector, we let the chips fall where they may and make no effort to remain industry- or sector-neutral vs. MSCI World or other global indices. Some regional or country differences are accounted for in the way we score for gender diversity. For example, women hold very few board seats in Japan but we wanted some Japanese representation in the fund, so the thresholds used for Japanese companies are somewhat different from, say, the threshold used for most European companies.

    TGH: Will there be a place in the fund to recognize companies that may not be best-in-class but are moving in that direction?

    JK: This fund is more about best practices than best intentions. Companies have to demonstrate a commitment to advancing women as evidenced by a number of criteria, including, most importantly, gender diversity on their board and in executive management. In some of our other funds at Pax World, although of which incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into portfolio construction, we may give some weight to improving performance or aspirational factors. In the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund, however, you have to be a leader to qualify for inclusion in the index and in the fund.

    TGH: Is this fund aimed primarily at individuals or do you see an institutional market for this product as well?

    JK: We think the fund should be attractive to both individual and institutional investors. Moreover, we don’t view this fund as simply a thematic fund or a niche product. This is a broadly diversified, global index-based strategy and we believe the fund can be considered as a core holding in many investor portfolios.

    The rise of the female investor is a theme that has been in the news for a number of years. A study by Russell Investments notes that women control 51% of the private wealth in the U.S., or $8 trillion. That figure is expected to grow women’s wealth at $8 trillion, a number that is forecasted to grow to $22 trillion by 2020. More importantly, women are more likely to invest in companies that do well by doing good. U.S. Trust’s Women and Wealth series found that “65% of women think it is important to consider the positive or negative social, political, and/or environmental impact of the companies they invest in.” And for women, the study indicates that investing for women is not all about the money; “Women feel so strongly about the social impact of their investments, that two-thirds (56%), compared to 44% of men, would be willing to accept a lower return from investments in companies that have a greater positive social impact.” While a number of investment managers are capitalizing on untapped potential for women investors, creating a product designed to fit how women invest in Pax Ellevate is likely to set itself apart from the crowd.

    June 30th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Michelle Bottomley, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Mercer

    michelle_bottomley_mercerBy Michelle Hendelman

    “Work for bold and brave people – intent on creating positive change.” This is advice Michelle Bottomley, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Mercer, encourages young female professionals to follow.

    “When you work for brave leaders intent on transforming their business – and partner across the firm – you have the impetus and opportunity to develop a holistic view that leads to more powerful solutions than any one person alone could have on their own,” advised Bottomley.

    Turning Data Analysis into Strategic Decisions
    Bottomley graduated from college with a dual degree in Economics and Biology, and was especially drawn toward statistics. She recalled, “I started my career in the corporate research department at Liberty Mutual Insurance. I was working toward my Ph.D. in Econometrics, and lucky to work with their corporate database – one of the most advanced at the time.” Bottomley added, “I was able to see the process of how data analyses were translated into corporate strategies.”

    This early experience sparked Bottomley’s passion for looking at businesses through the lens of customer data. Recognizing this interest in unlocking customer value led Bottomley to Bronner Slosberg Humphrey – now Digitas –where she grew the analytics function into a strategic capability. “I was very fortunate to begin my career around data, putting the spotlight on how marketing programs drive customer behavior change in ways that help companies grow their business,” said Bottomley.

    From Insights to Action
    During her time at Bronner, Bottomley shifted from the analytics side of marketing to a strategic client management role when a colleague suggested that she utilize her analysis skills and her talent of really understanding the implications of data in order to build strategies and programs that grow client relationships. Bottomley noted, “I really enjoyed working with clients to help them connect the dots between their target audiences, highly targeted marketing programs and revenue growth.”

    Bottomley’s next career step brought her to Epsilon, a leading data-driven marketing company, where she worked in the travel and entertainment area with clients like Disney, Enterprise Rental Cars, Dayton-Hudson and AMEX Platinum on building databases, segmentation and targeted communications to increase customer loyalty. “This was a fantastic time to be at Epsilon as they had lots of data and loyalty programs and clients who wanted to connect the dots between the data, communications and ROI,” said Bottomley.

    Keep reading »

    June 27th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Women CEO’s More Likely to Get Sacked? Thoughts Behind the Numbers.

    istock_000004780540xsmall1By Beth Senko

    The recent announcement that Jill Abramson, The New York Times’s first female Executive Editor, was dismissed for “an issue with management in the newsroom” has reignited the discussion about issues faced by women at the helm. The problem for women isn’t merely getting the top job; the problem is keeping the top job.

    Opinions vary on the reasons that Ms. Abramson was let go, and The Times’s leadership is facing criticism and concern from both outside and inside its ranks. Some supporters contend that Ms. Abramson was dismissed after she allegedly complained that her compensation package was less than that of her predecessor. In an article for The New Yorker, Ken Auletta wrote, “This may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was ‘pushy,’ a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.”

    Publicly Heralded – Publicly Forced Out
    As Ms. Abramson experienced, women selected for top roles are often heralded in the media and often leave those roles just as publicly. In 2007, for example, Angela Braly was named President and CEO of Wellpoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. When her appointment was announced, outgoing CEO Larry Glasscock commented, “We are fortunate to have a leader of Angela’s caliber ready to assume the President and CEO position. Angela has been one of my most trusted and valued colleagues, partnering with me on literally every major strategic initiative undertaken by the company over the past two years. She brings the right combination of intellect, health policy knowledge, business experience, strategic vision and execution.” In 2010, Braly also took over as Chairman of Wellpoint after steering the company through the combined fallout of the financial crisis and the ratification of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By 2011, Braly resigned under shareholder pressure driven by concerns over her management ability.

    Aberration or Pattern?
    Abramson and Braly are only two examples of women who have made it to the top role only to find them packing their bags a short time later. According to a study by Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), women in the top job are forced out more frequently than their male counterparts. The study, now in its 14th year, looks at CEO turnover at the 2,500 largest public companies. The data show that in the over the past decade 38% of women chief executives were fired, compared with 27% of their male counterparts.

    But that’s just the headline. Deeper into the study one finds that women chief executives often face additional hurdles during their tenure, which likely contribute to the higher dismissal rate.

    Women CEOs are more likely to be outsiders
    According to the study, 35% of women CEOs were outsiders versus 22% of men. The study doesn’t specifically address why women CEOs are more likely to be outside hires, but the data might suggest that women believe that they need to change companies to move to the CEO level and therefore are more open to outside opportunities. In the study, Gary L. Neilson, Senior Partner at Strategy& is quoted: “When boards look for new CEOs, they necessarily find a larger pool of female candidates outside their own organizations.” These hires may have full support from the Board of Directors, but they may face internal resistance from tenured executives who believe they were passed over for the top role. Neilson continued, “That women CEOs are more often outsiders may be an indication that companies have not been able to cultivate enough female executives in-house.”

    Keep reading »

    June 26th, 2014 | 11:00 am

    Does Being LGBT Still Matter or Are We in a Post-Bias World at Work?

    Nicki HeadshotBy Nicki Gilmour, CEO and Founder of theglasshammer.com and Evolved Employer

    Recently, I was asked to speak at The Conference Board’s Diversity and Inclusion conference in NY. My topic can be paraphrased into ‘why culture eats strategy for breakfast when it comes to diversity’ and most other things for that matter. In my session I was asked, “Do you still think that being LGBT matters since there has been considerable societal and workplace progress recently?”

    My response was, “It depends on which firm you work for.” This holds true for a similar question regarding gender and essentially any social identity matter these days. Anecdotally, over the past seven years of theglasshammer’s existence, a small number of you have told me that it does not matter; that you are a woman at work and it has no bearing on your career. I see a small group of people echoing this sentiment when it comes to applying the same question to being LGBT at work. Conversely, most of you have told me or have acknowledged formally in print that, yes being a woman does matter and having other social identities, such as LGBT or being Multicultural, are factors that affect how people perceive you at work regardless of your talents. It even has affected how some of you see yourselves, famously coined as the imposter syndrome.

    My first caveat is that you are entitled to any construct of belief that works for you, as personality and personal experiences are so often overlooked or discredited when they should not be. Ambition and access to the right relationships along with the natural desire often embedded into our personalities (conscious or otherwise) to assimilate to dominant group behaviors can trump a lot of adversity in any part of the world or in any workplace.

    Many people enjoy hard work and find the climb exhilarating. There is something to be said for believing something and then growing your reality from that place. That is why we have theglasshammer and why books like Lean In exist; to give you every chance to think about networking, negotiation, and career advancement on your terms should you choose it. Further to that, if you buy into the concept that you control your destiny, you won’t see or perceive obstacles to be because of your social identity at work; this concept works for some people, myself included, until I studied Organizational Psychology. There is a certain personality who can make it anywhere, but the question sometimes becomes at what cost? I count myself in this category. If I was a flower I could grow happily on a rock. The downside of this strategy is that I would be completely ignoring the environmental forces around me that help other flowers grow with less energy and better soil on the meadow.

    Stereotypes- Alive and Well
    I want to share a shocking, previously unseen study with you that my good friend and associate Dr. Frank Golom conducted to prove that we don’t live in a post-bias world and that social identity matters.

    The new study uses the famous and now forty-year-old “Think Manager, Think Male” trait research conducted and progressed by Virginia Schein. This new study by Dr. Golom et al extends the groups to include gay managers and lesbian managers in addition to (presumed) straight female and male manager categories.

    Dr. Golom, whilst at Columbia University, surveyed almost 200 undergraduate and graduate students in the NY metro area. Eighty percent were women and a small percentage of all respondents were LGBT-identified. The results will astound you and make you think twice about any beliefs you may have around the next generation creating change just by virtue of being born as Gen Y.

    Despite the survey responders being mostly women, the group that was elected as having the most leader-like traits was the straight male manager group. This group was ranked as most competent, productive, and emotionally stable amongst other attributes.

    So perhaps these young, educated women might answer a direct question such as, “Do you want to be CEO?” as, “yes”, yet blatantly stated their group as a whole to be a less able group (remember this is a stereotype, actual competency levels were not measured as no individuals were presented here as subjects).

    Furthermore, lesbians as a stereotyped group were rated as hostile and less competent than straight men yet had an edge over straight women ( as ranked by straight women, go figure?). Gay men really bore the brunt of the evils of stereotyping in this survey. They were assigned very low rankings on every trait that is considered to be leader-like, despite the slogans that people write on their Facebook such as, “It gets better”.

    How can this be, I hear you ask? Well, you have all heard about unconscious bias and stereotyping but perhaps it is good to note that (mostly straight) women are guilty of it too. It is less discussed that (mostly white) women have a role in keeping the status quo in place due to their proximity to the current power structure, just as it is also a stereotype to think men don’t want to be involved and do something.

    Keep reading »

    June 26th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Movers and Shakers: Suzanne McAndrew, Vice President of Talent Management, American Express

    Welcome to Pride Week on The Glass Hammer — we’ll be profiling successful LGBT business women all week long!

    suzanne_mcandrew_amexBy Michelle Hendelman

    “By not telling your story, you might run the risk of creating barriers for yourself at work,” said Suzanne McAndrew, vice president of Talent Management at American Express.

    “That being said, you need to find the right outlets to tell your story and feel comfortable that it will then become part of what you are known for at the same time–and this can be challenging,” she continued.

    Currently, McAndrew works to identify high potential talent within American Express and facilitates pathways to their success. For LGBT professionals, she advocates bringing their whole self to work, but also encourages them to define a personal brand that extends beyond their sexual orientation. “Regardless of whether you are gay or straight, you still possess skills, knowledge, and talents that make you a leader who is worthy of attention,” she explained.

    Career Story
    As McAndrew looks back at her career, she can separate her professional journey into three different chapters that blend the areas of service, communications and change management and talent. She started her career in retail, working in HR for Saks Fifth Avenue where she really had the opportunity to develop depth and breadth of knowledge in the area.

    “I was fortunate to have a sponsor who brought me to New York to lead the corporate communications group before becoming the HR Director for Saks Off Fifth, the outlet store division of the company,” said McAndrew, who led the initiative of opening new outlet stores all over the country during her time in this role.

    Before moving on to what McAndrew considers the second chapter of her career, she continued to develop her communications experience at Macy’s where she was charged with building a strong corporate communications group in addition to bolstering the company’s internal programming for employees.

    Continuing to focus on communications, McAndrew took her career in a different direction when she accepted a consulting role at Towers Perrin, which later became Towers Watson. “I started as a communications consultant, but my role evolved over time to include work in the talent space and thought leadership,” she said. It was here that her relationship with American Express began as she spent eight years providing communications consulting services for the company.

    “An opportunity opened up in the talent management group at American Express which involved executive talent planning, development, and assessment for the top 1,500 employees at the firm. And this is the third and current chapter in my career story,” McAndrew explained.

    She is spending a lot of time right now thinking about the employee of the future and what that profile looks like. “What does the next generation of leaders look like? What motivates and drives them? How do we build a diverse talent pipeline and build inclusion into our everyday? These are ongoing questions that we have to consider while managing our current talent pool and bringing on new talent as well,” said McAndrew.

    “I take a lot of pride in developing people and helping them discover and reach their full potential,” she continued. “It is rewarding to see others grow and succeed.”

    Advice for Achieving Professional Fulfillment
    According to McAndrew, her personal definition of success centered around the notion of finding her purpose, although this is not something she figured out until later in her career. “I wish I had been more in tune to the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ aspects of my professional development,” McAndrew noted. “I learned that having a purposeful career did not necessarily mean finding the quickest path to the top, but rather being clear on what I am aiming to achieve overall for myself, my family and the company I work for.”

    Keep reading »

    June 25th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    In a Record Year for Corporate Equality, Some Challenges Remain for LGBT Employees

    Welcome to Pride Week on The Glass Hammer — we’ll be profiling successful LGBT business women all week long!

    iStock_000000837540XSmallBy Michelle Hendelman

    For the last twelve years, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has compiled the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The current index features a record number of corporations– 304 to be exact –that achieved the coveted 100 percent ranking. The ranking validates the significant contribution of a company in providing equal rights in the workplace to LGBT employees.

    While this number speaks volumes about the progress and change that has occurred, there are still factors of LGBT equality in the workplace that are difficult to address through the index and its measurements. Such as, what happens when a high potential LGBT employee is selected for an extended assignment abroad—let’s say for example, in a country where their sexual orientation or gender identity is considered illegal and punishable?

    Or, consider a scenario closer to home. If you are a lesbian professional and are offered a promotion that requires you to relocate to another state where marriage equity is not recognized by law and you don’t know if the office culture is accepting of differences when it comes to who you take to the company BBQ?

    Talented people are faced with choosing to continue to live as themselves at home and yet forgo the recognition of their marital status and their life in fact and potentially go “back in the closet” in order to advance their career. We are talking about highly professional people who want to do well, yet this type of dilemma ensures that only the folks whose ambition will overshadow all else would take this opportunity. Companies don’t always realize that they are losing talent by ignoring cultural markers and inconsistencies in the laws and policies at company, state and federal levels.

    Myriad Complexities Accompany Small Victories
    According to Meghan Stabler, an IT executive at CA Technologies, member of the HRC’s board of directors and National Business Advisory Council, “It’s a woven mess of state and federal laws, and other legal and social implications that impact employers. While the CEI accurately reflects positive changes occurring within the workplace, it’s progressive companies who benefit the most by clearly understanding that attracting, recruiting and retaining employees regardless of who they are or who they love, is vital to a healthy and productive corporate culture.”

    She continued, “A huge gap exists in both large and small companies EEO policies. Hiring practices, diversity training and EEO policies need to be updated to combat the lack of statewide protection. This is where we need to see change the most.”

    Since the inception of the CEI in 2002, there has been a large increase in the percentage of major businesses providing workplace protection for the LGBT employees. In 2002, 61 percent of Fortune 500 companies included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy compared to 91 percent in 2014. Furthermore, the percentage of companies including gender identity under their non-discrimination policy jumped from just 3 percent in 2002 to 61 percent in 2014, according to the CEI.

    Keep reading »

    June 24th, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Movers and Shakers: Emily Griffen, Counsel, Shearman & Sterling

    Welcome to Pride Week on The Glass Hammer — we’ll be profiling successful LGBT business women all week long!

    griffen_emily_shearmanBy Michelle Hendelman

    As a litigator, Emily Griffen is accustomed to speaking out in court or in legal meetings on behalf of her clients. But, like most people and especially women, speaking out about her career didn’t come quite as easily.

    That is why Griffen, a litigation Counsel in global law firm Shearman & Sterling’s Bay Area offices, advises other women to have confidence in their skills and knowledge.

    “Be vocal about your career interests and find people who will give you the opportunity to share your opinion,” she says. “This is how you will learn and grow.”

    Career in Litigation
    To date, that approach has taken her far, even though she didn’t really have a definitive career plan set in stone after college. According to Griffen, she was drawn to law school and especially litigation because of the complexity of the subject matter and the enjoyment she found in grappling with challenging legal concepts. She honed her strengths, identified her interests and aligned her passion for legal research, analysis and brief writing with her ultimate professional goal: to join a global law firm with a strong litigation group.

    When Griffen started at Shearman & Sterling’s San Francisco office, she was involved in a number of securities class action and shareholder derivative cases, but as the scope of the litigation group has expanded, so have Griffen’s role and responsibilities. In recent years, her work has grown to include white collar crime and consumer class action suits, as well as securities and corporate governance litigation, for major clients like LG Electronics Inc. and Toyota Motor Corporation – and that variety is something Griffen is excited about. She works regularly with Shearman & Sterling’s litigation partners in the Bay Area – Patrick Robbins, Jeffrey Facter and Stephen Hibbard – as well as with the firm’s other litigation partners and senior lawyers around the world. Griffen also spent a one-year rotation in Shearman’s international arbitration group in the firm’s Paris office, and continues to work with that group from time to time as well.

    In Griffen’s field, it is somewhat rare for a case to go to trial – most disputes are settled well before a jury is empaneled. Yet in only her fourth year as a lawyer, Griffen found herself immersed in a three-week-long jury trial in San Jose in a securities-related employment dispute. “This was an incredible and unique experience for me so early in my career,” said Griffen, who argued complicated pre-trial motions in front of the judge and questioned witnesses at trial. “We won the case, obtaining a complete defense verdict, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a rewarding experience, which is rare for a securities litigator.”

    More recently, Griffen found herself on the eve of trial again when she was part of the defense team representing the former CFO of a Silicon Valley software company in a civil enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We obtained a favorable settlement for our client at the last minute after years of litigation, but we had to prepare our case as if we were going to trial. It was a very exciting case to be involved in,” said Griffen. As part of the settlement avoiding trial, the SEC agreed to drop all of its fraud claims against Griffen’s client.

    Keep reading »

    June 23rd, 2014 | 6:00 am

    Voice of Experience: Susie Scher, Managing Director and Head of Investment Grade Capital Markets/Syndicate and Liability Management, Goldman Sachs

    Welcome to Pride Week on The Glass Hammer — we’ll be profiling successful LGBT business women all week long!

    scher_susie_gs (1)By Michelle Hendelman

    “For the first fourteen years of my career, I was not out at work. I think this was a self-imposed barrier that was holding me back,” said Susie Scher, Managing Director and Head of Investment Grade Capital Markets/Syndicate and Liability Management, Goldman Sachs.

    “It was a turning point in my career when I decided that I just couldn’t hide anymore. I was able to be myself at work all the time,” she added, “and everyone at Goldman Sachs was so incredibly supportive and accepting.”

    Her Beginnings in Banking
    Although Scher has had a long and fulfilling career in banking, she attributes her start in the industry to serendipity. When Scher entered her final year at Middlebury College as a Political Science major with a minor in English, she was certain that she would either become a lawyer or a writer upon graduation.

    Scher did not pursue either of these paths, and instead decided to enter the workforce. “I applied for a bunch of different jobs in banking, consulting, advertising, and marketing, among others,” recalled Scher, “and ended up with thirteen interviews at different companies, including a handful of investment banks.”

    Even though Scher had developed a bit of an aversion to math growing up, she did not let this deter her from pursuing a career in banking. She explained, “I loved the energy of the people who interviewed me for the investment banking jobs. They were smart, type A, young individuals, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to work for and alongside those people.”

    After the interview process, Scher accepted a job with Salomon Brothers, and the feeling she had about the energy of the business was spot on. Moreover, Scher began to realize that she had an affinity for understanding corporate finance and how companies operated from a strategic perspective.

    “I decided to go to business school at Columbia after three years at Solomon Brothers to obtain a broader view of corporate America. Here, it clicked for me that corporate finance was a story being told with numbers,” Scher said. “This is when I realized that banking was for me.”

    In business school, Scher also became very interested by how external factors impact the markets, and thus impact businesses. “I paired my interests in corporate finance and the markets and landed in a capital markets function which marries advising companies and executing transactions,” she said.

    Her Work at Goldman Sachs
    Currently, as head of Investment Grade Capital Markets/Syndicate and Liability Management, Scher takes a lot of pride in the growth of this business considering just ten years ago, the firm was not as strong in the investment grade bond business as it is today. Now, Scher and her team handle many high profile deals and attract even more business when the markets are tumultuous.

    “I advise big cap companies on financing, risk management and capital structure,” said Scher, “and right now I am focusing a lot on capital structure optimization and helping companies with the complexities of M&A transactions in a global market.”

    She added, “Our clients rely on us for our judgment on complex deals or during tough markets, and I am proud to have been a part of the rebuilding and restructuring of the investment grade debt finance business over the last decade.”

    According to Scher, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is having the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting and exciting clients in the world. “I am also really interested in how technology will continue to transform our industry and how we do business in the future,” explained Scher.

    Her Experience as a LGBT Woman in Banking
    “As a gay woman in banking, I do not feel like I have encountered insurmountable hurdles,” Scher remarked. “The path to success requires all of us –men, women, gay people and straight people –to think about how to be strategic about our careers,” she added.

    Keep reading »