A woman leading the pack on Wall Street is none other than Suzanne Shank. Her position as co-founder, chairwoman and CEO of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., L.L.C. makes her the Queen of Wall Street. Her firm has transacted $1.4 trillion of municipal bonds and more than $1.1 trillion of corporate bond and equity transactions since its founding two decades ago. She's a perfect example of creating value in work and being a boss while doing it.
Shank most likely wouldn't agree with this statement as she believes it is better to master one thing than to be a jack of all trades. In an interview with Crain's Detroit Business, she states that it is better to "be an expert at something rather than a generalist at everything. If you're viewed as the expert, you're the go-to person and that's very important."
Before becoming CEO and chairwoman of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., L.L.C., formally Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., L.L.C., Suzanne Shank started as a student at Georgia Institute of Technology and received a degree in civil engineering. But she didn’t stop there. Shank went on to gain her MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dedication to education made her a power player from early on.
In her interviews, Shank gives credit to two people that have mentored her and helped her become who she is today. Under the leadership and partnership of Muriel Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, and Napoleon Brandford III, Shank became chairwoman and CEO of their small boutique municipal finance firm.
Not only is Shank a businesswoman and mother, she's also active in the community. She is heavily involved in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. She is also on the board of trustees of Spelman College, the Wharton Graduate Board of Trustees and more more committees that she dedicates money and time to.
After knocking on doors to gain a spot on Wall Street, Shank landed at a small firm. The decision to go with a small firm was a strategic choice for Shank as she didn't want to work for the larger firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. Her decisions have lead her to owning Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., L.L.C and competing strongly against the strong sharks like JPMorgan Chase & Co. She's been able to acquire billion-dollar deals by sticking to her niche while maintaining a small firm.
You don't see too many women on Wall Street and you definitely don't see many AfricanAmerican women. Suzanne Shank is the most successful African-American woman on Wall Street. She's broken through the glass ceiling that holds women back, especially Black women and has gone on to be chairwoman and CEO of Siebert Cisneros & Co. Though she didn't initially set out to be a CEO of a finance company, the role came to her from her partners Muriel Siebert and Napoleon Brandford III. She's been part of the company's growth and will continue to be for years to come. Her determination shows us that no matter what barrier is in front of you, you can break that glass ceiling.
In 2000, Shank was co-founder of an internship program, the Detroit Finance Summer Institute, which teaches inner-city students about finance jobs. Shank makes sure to help the youth in Detroit and mentors the youth. Being involved and giving back is definitely one of the keys to winning at life!
Not only does Shank make time to mentor youth outside of her work, she also makes time to lead her team inside of the job. She sees herself as a role model and leader for her 80 employees. Even though she is a CEO, she works just as hard as them. She even takes time to go out in the field and meet with clients face to face. She believes in building relationships with clients and teaches her employees to do so as well. Shank also heavily loves what she does. Here is another example of loving what you do and doing it with passion. It's one thing to manage but it's another thing to lead, and that is what Shank does.
In an interview with Wharton Magazine, Shank let the world know that she's more than just a woman leader, she is a leader:
"I’ve always seen myself as a business leader. Being a woman has armed me with attributes that are indicative of great leaders. Women tend to multitask well. Women promote collaboration and teamwork. Women are their own toughest critics so we work hard. And as I said previously, we have great empathy for others. These are qualities necessary to be a great leader, and women are just wired with these strengths. Buy my goal is to be viewed as a leader, not only a woman leader, as I have great men working for me too."
(Photo: Randy Smith/BET)