Mediant Mentors: Engaging the Next Generation of Women in Finance

As part of Mediant’s partnership with Rock The Street, Wall Street (RTSWS), we recently hosted a virtual field trip for female students at Panther Creek High School in Cary, North Carolina. This is the third year Mediant has been involved with the program, striving to increase financial literacy and boost interest in careers in finance among young women through educational sessions.

In previous years, students visited Mediant’s Cary office, but this year’s event was held online due to pandemic restrictions. Lisa Warren, Chief Customer Officer, and Gussie Tate, Senior Vice President of Operations, welcomed the girls and gave an overview of Mediant’s mission to drive shareholder engagement through technology, design and communication.

Laura Franconi, Director of Global Solutions, moderated the event and was joined by her all-female panel of colleagues including Daniela Kelly, Director of Business Enablement; Stacie Frost, Director of Sales Operations; and Micki Buffington, Head of Relationship Management. Panelists shared their career paths, mentorship experiences and what it’s like as a woman working in a field traditionally dominated by men.

“There were plenty of days where I was scared to death,” said Kelly when discussing her first job in the financial industry. “I was the only woman and was also the youngest, but I had two things my coworkers didn’t have: writing skills, and my commitment.” Kelly explained how she used her fear to motivate her and drive her success. “Rise to the challenge and turn it into something great.”

When asked how the view of women in the business world has evolved, Stacie Frost spoke candidly about the drastic differences between her first and current work environments. “When I was first starting in the financial services industry, our clients were the ‘old boys club,’” she reflected. “On a work retreat, I felt especially isolated when I realized my mentor and I were the only women in a room of 30 or 40 men…It was a little disturbing.” Frost also recalls that her company did not even have a maternity policy.

Micki Buffington shared that her biggest obstacle was learning how to become her own advocate. “I got passed over many times by men for roles I really wanted. So listen to your inner voice and do what’s best for you, even if that means walking away and pursuing a new opportunity.” Gussie Tate agreed and encouraged the young women to never be afraid to ask a question.

Towards the end of the session, each woman shared one piece of advice with the students.

Kelly: “Always run at your problems instead of away from them. Don’t procrastinate and address them right away.”

Frost: “Be vocal. Open your mouth and be your own advocate. Work hard, demonstrate value and talk about what you want.”

Buffington: “Don’t be afraid to go into uncharted territory. Take a stand and take a risk because you are the future.”

Mediant will continue to work with Panther Creek High School and RTSWS in one-on-one mentorship sessions throughout the spring. Students can ask questions and seek guidance on college, internships, careers and the financial services industry.

For more information about our partnership with RTSWS, contact Jean Luther.