In Conversation with Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

Sallie - Headshot (1)This week, we’re thrilled to interview none other than Sallie Krawcheck after her recent Facebook Live chat with Fereshteh.

Sallie is known for leading Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and Citi Private as CEO, and was called “The Last Honest Analyst” by Fortune Magazine and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” Not unlike our mission here at Code to Inspire, her life’s mission is to help women to reach their financial and professional goals. That’s why we were so excited to have another discussion with her about women’s empowerment, finances, and the best way to navigate male-dominated industries.

CTI: Why do you think it’s important for women in particular to gain a deeper understanding of their finances?

SK: Simply put — and this won’t be news to you or your students — knowledge is power. The more you know about your money, the more power your have over your finances and the decisions that impact your future. Start with the basics, like tracking how much you spend and where, and figuring out how much debt you and your partner have (if any). From there, determine much you can afford to save regularly and look for a way to grow your money through investing.

CTI: Can you elaborate on the importance for women – the world over – to gain financial independence from the men in their lives?

SK: Right along with knowledge, money is power — in this case, economic power. (When we combine the two, good things happen, trust me!!) When we are in control of our own finances, we are more in control of our own lives. What does that look like? It can mean the ability to free ourselves from a bad situation, whether it’s at work or at home. As a society, it also means progress for women as a whole, through opportunities such as starting a new business or gaining additional education.

CTI: Do you have a story from your meteoric rise through the ranks of Wall Street that you can share with our students to help keep them motivated?

SK: When I was in my late twenties, after I graduated from business school, I realized something few women in their twenties have ever woken up in the morning and realized: I wanted to be a sell-side equity research analyst on Wall Street!

It was my dream job. I applied to a ton of firms, only to be turned down by all the big names — Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, etc. Finally, after over a dozen rejections, I landed a job at about half my pre-business school salary. It was at a smaller firm named Sanford Bernstein, covering a research area few people were interested in. That’s how I got my start in equity research, and three years later I was number one in my field. Sometimes you have to face rejection (in my case, lots of it!) to accomplish something great.

My advice? Keep going, it will so be worth it.

CTI: Do you have any advice for our students to help them navigate working in a male-dominated industry?

SK: Find a sponsor. What I mean by that, is find a colleague — male or female — who is personally invested in your career success. Aligning yourself with a good sponsor can help you navigate a predominantly male workplace, both in the day to day and also in your long term career. This person should be someone you trust, and someone who will advocate for you when it comes time for a raise or a promotion.

CTI: Although our students are a world away, do you have any universally-true financial advice to share with them as they start their careers?

Save a portion of your salary each time you get paid. Don’t worry about the amount, just get started. Regardless of how much you’re able to set aside, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly it accumulates. Getting into this habit is essential, because as the amount of money you have saved grows, I find so does confidence. You’ll be more financially stable, and more likely seek a new opportunity, or pursue that side gig you’ve been thinking about for a while.