Op-ed: Defining success as a woman in investment banking is more than just titles and salaries

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I am a Black woman in her 30s who is a wife, mom of three girls and president of the nation’s largest minority-owned investment bank – which is also one of the largest privately-held investment banks in the nation.  

In so many ways, I am an anomaly. 

To reach the professional height at which I am, I took the path of many of my peers. I attained an undergraduate degree, interned, went to graduate school, forged relationships and worked hard.

It is the not-so-obvious personal moments and decisions I’ve made, however, that have really contributed to the fabric of who I am and who I will be. 

Faith and family first

Kourtney Gibson

I’ve chosen to prioritize my faith and family above all. 

I begin and end every day in prayer.

As a mom determined to nurse each of her littles, I’ve tucked myself away in airplane bathrooms dozens of times to pump ounces of milk. 

Likewise, to ensure I am present for my family, I’ve hopped on cross-country, red-eye flights to attend business meetings during the day. I also make sure I have landed back home in time to kiss my little girls (and my husband) good night.

This is the life I’ve chosen. It is one of regular and consistent prioritization and efficiency.

Success, to me, is not limited to professional titles and impressive salaries.

I have worked to become, not just a financier’s dream, but also the dream of young girls like me who grew up in small Midwestern towns.

Now, with three young women who look up to me every day and call me mommy, I work to be my children’s dream and example as well.

Putting valuable lessons to work

I began my career in finance at the age of 16 with a summer internship at Loop Capital, the firm at which I currently serve as president. I didn’t know it then, but that position was the foundation to my life as I know it and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given. 

As a teenager, I sat next to men and women who’d spent their careers perfecting the art of negotiation and quick thinking. I learned their habits and held onto every word of their advice. Though those days were decades ago, much of what I had learned then still rings true now.

This includes the following: 

  •  Integrity matters in life and business.
  • You are only as good as the people around you.
  • It is OK to fail, but not OK to never try.
  • Always stay close to the revenue.
  • Build your network.
  • Always hone your craft, but stretch yourself to take on new opportunities. 
  • You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Often, the effort, achievement and opinions of women, particularly those in finance, are undervalued. However, there are always exceptions.  

I encourage every young woman with dreams of a career in finance and beyond to be the exception. Push everything to the limit. Ask for it all. Do it all. Anything – and everything – is possible if you do the work, align yourself with great company and maintain an insatiable appetite for the blessings that life has to offer.

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