Humble beginnings: the origins of a CEO

If you’re hoping to settle into a career in finance—especially high-paying positions like investment banking jobs and wealth management jobs—then the assumed trajectory is that you have to go to business school first. As our OneWire Open Door CEO interviews have proven, that’s not so! Check out the testimonials below: some of the most powerful names in the finance industry broke through their glass ceilings in entirely personal ways. A bachelor’s degree from a business school and an MBA is not the only possible path to success!

When an industry promises strong pay, don’t shy away
“I had a general idea that I wanted to do something in business. Both of my parents were professors at MIT. When I was in college, I majored in geology because I came from a scientific background, and there was economic opportunity in geology, because oil prices had been high, we were after the first OPEC crisis, it was the 70s. Oil prices and inflation were high. So it was a great time to be a geologist—I went out and got myself a job offer at a significantly higher salary than I would’ve gotten at Morgan-Stanley.” – Hartley Rogers, chairman, Hamilton Lane

Always be networkinga blind date could turn into a new job

“I gave myself a 30-day round trip ticket to come to New York and make it big, or I was going home after 30 days, if I couldn’t find a job. Four days later, I met a man who asked me out on a date. He took me to a black-tie benefit, he worked in finance at the time … at the benefit, I saw this woman. I did a shot of bourbon, walked over to her, and said ‘I’ll do anything, I really want to work for you. At 8:30 the next morning, she called [and hired me] … and that was working for a big fashion PR firm in the 90s!” – Alison Brod, founder, Alison Brod PR

Always follow your dreams
“I grew up in Quebec City, and I spent a little time in a French-Canadian part of Canada … Where I grew up, the whole educational focus was a classical liberal education. You became a doctor, or a lawyer, or a priest. My dad was a businessman, and I always had an interest in economics, and the markets. So I went to school in Ontario, and after I had my MBA, I had only one desire, which was to work in an investment bank. ” – Brian Walsh, chairman and CIO, Saguenay Strathmore Capital

Don’t be afraid to take influence from your parents
“I started out in Los Angeles, and we lived there until I was about 7. We moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. My mother was a teacher, and my father was an engineer. Both my parents were entrepreneurs: my father started his own company, and my mother started several of her own companies.” – Joanne Wilson, angel investor, Gotham Gal

Finally, when a good job is offered, take it!
“I met a man in Tulsa, Oklahoma who was in the real estate business. He was overly impressed with my pedigree. He offered me a job, we got along really well, so I left my job at the bank and went to work for this real estate developer for a couple of years.” – Jeff Kelter, founder and CEO, KTR Realty