Aminah Nailor is not the kind of person that backs away from a challenge.
Whether it's learning a new coding language over one weekend or teaching herself a new application for a role, Aminah sticks to one motto: “Keep developing—Not just the skill set for the current job, keep developing yourself and be in a constant state of learning.”
After joining T. Rowe Price almost 4 years ago as a Business Systems Analyst, Aminah used her philosophy of constant learning to step into a new role as a Software Development Engineer in Test for the GBS-Distribution and Marketing Services - Individual Investor org.
Keep reading to hear more about Aminah’s experience embracing new professional opportunities and her advice for professionals transitioning into a new role.
Tip 1: Set clear goals and go after them
Before coming to T. Rowe Price, Aminah worked as a Business Systems Analyst for major companies in the telecommunications, finance, and broadcast media industries. In those roles she wrote requirements, identified risks, conducted application testing, gained big picture vision prowess, and project managed solution phases of software development projects.
Although all these roles had different scopes and demands, she used one strategy to excel: set clear goals. Setting goals and making a strategic plan for how to reach them can help you stay focused and excel in your career.
When talking specifically about engineering, she encourages people to “know what you want to do in the engineering job family. The options are plentiful, so know the skill set you want to have and master it.” Here, she highlights the importance of being in a constant state of learning. Paired with the next two tips, you can open up many professional opportunities.
Tip 2: Align with the company's goals
After 20+ years of experience in Business Systems Analysis, Aminah began to seek new opportunities in a company that shared a similar vision of professional and personal development. This led her to take an opportunity at T. Rowe Price— a move that would offer her the opportunity to learn new coding languages, earn certifications, and pivot into a new role. Outside of her BSA role, Aminah spent many hours engaged in community volunteer activities, taking on elected and appointed leadership opportunities along the way.
As a global investment management firm, T. Rowe Price is focused on helping clients achieve their long-term financial goals by strategic investing, an active management approach. Besides their rigorous field research and careful risk management, the firm credits the long-term success of their clients to the diversity of their employees. In 1937, the firm was founded by Thomas Rowe Price Jr. and four associates, two women and two men. This set the stage to continue growing their teams from all backgrounds, perspectives, talents, and experiences.
T. Rowe Price believes its success is linked to the success of the communities they reside in. Their community-based efforts come to life through financial support and associate volunteerism. T. Rowe Price wants to support people beyond the company and into the community, no matter who they are. This support to grow is what keeps her coming to work every day.
Tip 3: Be willing to learn
Transitioning from Business Analysis into Software Engineering is a major feat for anyone, but in true Aminah fashion, she didn’t back down from the challenge. With her eyes set on the opportunity, and the support of the firm, she picked up additional coding skills she would need to start test automation over a weekend. She also completed training in Selenium, which she paired with Python (another language that she learned at T. Rowe Price). Aminah’s tenacity and constant willingness to learn equipped her with the tools she needed to thrive in her new role.
Her responsibilities now include testing automation, writing scripts, working with developers, and supporting the 18 tools and applications that drive success to the company's customer experience. One specific application Aminah supported was SureTrack (now Asset Transfer), which converts clients from other financial service companies and facilitates the transition of accounts and fund transfers.
Apart from this major project, T. Rowe Price is continually investing in Digital Excellence and Data Programs that help meet the clients’ objectives. As of 2022, 60% of their technology budget is set aside for this purpose. The six major programs for this year boast the latest technology and are specific to digital excellence, advisory services, data activation, associate platforms, a new tiered benefits program, and growth enablement.
Paired with the excellent research and performance of T. Rowe associates, each of these programs support clients as they navigate investment options. Aminah further reiterates this as she was selected to be part of a team put together to work on the implementation of an internal asset allocation tool, initially rolled out in Q4 of 2021. This tool is planned to expand and become an external facing tool later this year.
T. Rowe Price is committed to finding the best talent from all backgrounds. If you want to know more about how you could fit in at T. Rowe Price, check out their tech event “Engage, Enable & Elevate”, fully led by technologists like Aminah.
Watch time: 5:01
Hermione Elisée, talent acquisition manager at T. Rowe Price, shares her insight on how to prepare for a job interview at the company.
She highlights the importance of preparing by thoroughly reviewing the job description and aligning it with your relevant work experience and skills. When updating your resume, Hermoine recommends that you include detailed descriptions of your skills. Also, make sure your resume is proofread by someone else before submitting it.
Hermione also shares an overview of the application process at T. Rowe Price. In general, candidates should expect second and third-round interviews.
When growing the team, Hermione looks for leadership abilities and potential, the ability to work in a team environment, and task-oriented candidates. Resumes that show these skills also stand out.
To learn more about T Rowe Price and their open roles, click here.
T. Rowe Price is a global investment management firm driven by independent thinking, creative solutions, and diverse voices. During a 90-minute virtual networking event on October 21st 2020, T. Rowe Price's women leaders shared insights into how the company uses machine learning, advanced analytics, and digital tools to create a world-class client experience.
Speakers from T. Rowe Price included:
- Kris Caverly, Vice President and Head of Individual Investors Technology Delivery
- Phillippa Thomson, Principal Data Scientist
- Katie Gleaves, Software Engineering Sr. Manager
- Jenna Molyneux, Principal Infrastructure Governance
Preparing for the Unexpected: How Maria Fava Found Her Confidence as a Bicultural, Bilingual Woman at T. Rowe Price
Born in Mexico City and raised in Guadalajara, Maria Fava never would have predicted that she'd have a career in financial services. And certainly not in Maryland.
Over two decades ago, when Maria moved to the U.S. to study psychology at the University of Texas at Arlington, she'd planned on moving back to Mexico to study law after graduation. Instead, she fell in love with an unassuming Italian-American her senior year. She married him and moved to Maryland, his home state.
Now, some twenty-five years later, she's still in Maryland, and working at investment firm T. Rowe Price—the same company where she started her career. But she hasn't been at T. Rowe Price all those years. Having joined the firm as a broker, she left to start a family and help her husband run his business. Fifteen years later, she knew she wanted to return to the company that had helped her launch her career, so she rejoined the firm in a totally new capacity a year and a half ago.
Now a Corporate Events Lead Manager, the unpredictability of her own life has taught her a lesson close to any event planner's heart: always plan for the unexpected.
We sat down with Maria over Zoom to talk about her decision to join (and rejoin) T. Rowe Price, the challenges and opportunities she's had from being bilingual and bicultural, and her advice for other women looking to become more confident in their careers.
Adapting to new environments and learning to see insecurities as assets
Maria's commitment to helping those around her uncover their strengths stems largely from her own early-career experiences of learning how to fit in. Having moved from Guadalajara to Texas, and later from Texas to Maryland, she knows a thing or two about feeling out of place.
In her first few years in the States, for instance, she worked on her accent. "I noticed that by learning English in Mexico, I had more of a British accent, and when I got to Texas, that was a little awkward," she laughs. She eventually did such a good job adopting a Texan accent that she worked to change it all over again upon moving to Maryland. But that came with its own challenges, especially early in her career.
"Sometimes I would use a word that was incorrect and I had this anxiety of sounding dumb. I thought it might've been better if I did have an accent so that [coworkers] could understand that English was not my first language," says Maria.
She also had to learn to deal with often being not just the only Hispanic woman in the room, but sometimes the only woman, period. And on top of navigating the workplace in her second language and learning a new culture, she had to contend with the voice inside her head that told her she didn't really have the experience she needed to do the job: "I felt that I didn't quite have the qualifications that I needed to be able to compete."
It was the support she received from T. Rowe Price to build her finance expertise, coupled with her own realization that "being bicultural and bilingual enabled me to do my job better," that helped her move past this and develop confidence in herself and the unique skills she brought to the table. Maria hopes other women reach the same realization, and offered some advice to start building that confidence in yourself:
- Don't exclude yourself from anything. "Don't look at the qualifications that you need and right off the bat think you don't have them. Give yourself a break, apply for the job that speaks to you, and find out if you need to have continuing education or other training later," she says.
- Always have a backup plan. In the world of event planning, says Maria, one adage is truer than all the rest: nothing is perfect. "What sets you apart from being an okay planner to a really good planner is anticipating all the things that could go wrong and having backup plans for the backup plan."
- Get there early. Almost too early, says Maria, who's taken this on as a personal goal after getting lost en route to one of her first-ever big client meetings and showing up an hour late. "I never did that again!" she says. "I'm always early now."
- Find opportunities and act on them. Maria's career has seen her take on finance, accounting, marketing, events, and legal work, all because she's not been afraid to raise her hand and volunteer to work on new opportunities.
From broker to small business owner to events manager: coming full circle
Maria first joined T. Rowe Price by chance. Having just relocated to Maryland, she needed a job and a friend told her T. Rowe Price was looking for bilingual speakers as they expanded into Latin American markets. She was hesitant at first, "I'd never even taken a finance class. I had no idea how I was going to do it," explains Maria, "but I went to the interview and I got the job."
T. Rowe Price supported her as she got her brokerage license and Maria found that she loved the work. "I'm a lifelong learner. If you give me a book, I'll try to learn from it. It really was exciting to me," she says.
Her career took off from there. She traveled often, presenting to clients, and took on more and more responsibility. "When I started, I was 22 years old, right out of college, scared to death of everything I was asked to do," she says. "But I got completely out of my comfort zone. It was an incredible experience that allowed me to be basically fearless."
She would've kept going, but she and her husband also wanted to start a family, so Maria went part-time and consulted for T. Rowe Price for a few years, then transitioned to working with her husband to start and manage their wholesale produce business. She learned a different set of skills and handled the accounting there for 15 years, while consulting for clients, including T. Rowe Price, on the side.
Maria's career has seen her take on finance, accounting, marketing, events, and legal work, all because she's not been afraid to raise her hand and ask for opportunities. She first got involved with translation work at T. Rowe Price after she caught an error in some of the firm's Spanish marketing materials and flagged it to their legal department. That turned into regular contract work down the line and opportunities to learn about different parts of the business. "If I voiced an interest in wanting to do something, [my managers] always gave me the tools to get that education and continue to learn," says Maria. "Be sure to speak up and ask for the learning tools, education, or leadership opportunities that you want."
A couple years ago, when Maria's kids were headed off to college, she felt ready for a career change—and she wanted T. Rowe Price to be a part of it. "I knew I didn't want to be a broker again, but I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to pay it forward at T. Rowe Price and do something for other people like it had been done for me," says Maria.
In her new role as Corporate Events Lead Manager, she's responsible for executing meetings hosted by the company's C-suite and management community, but she's also set a personal goal for herself: to mentor and support the women around her, the way her own T. Rowe Price mentors supported her when she began her career. "I wanted to see if there was anything that I could do to help some of the up-and-coming talent to feel the way that [my first managers] made me feel," she says.
That was part of her rationale for joining Mosaic, T. Rowe Price's employee diversity resource group. She appreciates all that the company is doing to make people feel included and wants to be a part of that. "There's more engagement, more opportunities, even just to collaborate with each other and find each other within the firm," she says.
She also looks for opportunities to remind those around her that they can achieve anything they want to if they're willing to stretch their comfort zones. Not long ago, she encouraged a co-worker who was struggling to get advancement opportunities to advocate for herself, and she's since been promoted. "Now I ask her to review things for me!" Maria says, smiling.
Preparing for the unexpected: planning through a pandemic
In a career built on her ability to adapt and navigate between different environments, it's a little ironic that Maria's second year back at T. Rowe Price has seen her adapting to a completely different version of event planning. When offices shuttered and events were canceled because of COVID-19, Maria had to figure out how to put on events completely virtually.
"It was a hundred miles an hour, searching for virtual platforms, learning terms, taking webcasts, just trying to get trained and educated on how best to support my clients," she says. "But I'm all about the experience. I spent a lot of time learning about best practices—lengths of meetings, camera versus no camera, lighting—just how to create the proper environment for the objective not to be missed."
It's been stressful, says Maria, but not impossible, and the opportunity to completely transform her role has been an interesting one. "I always believe that you sell yourself short if you run away from an opportunity to learn. I would have never learned all these new technologies, but I've learned so much, and I appreciate that," she says. "Being adaptable has been the key to succeeding in this environment."
And she's been able to see the silver lining, too. "I don't want to say that there's a lot of positive things about COVID," says Maria. "Everybody is going through so many different things in their personal lives and people have all learned to be a little more understanding."