Meet Nicole, A Branch Manager at Morgan Stanley
Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner Morgan Stanley. Go to Morgan Stanley's Page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
As a young, black woman Nicole Dickerson knows she doesn't fit the typical image of a branch manager. Through her leadership at Morgan Stanley, Nicole shares how she's breaking stereotypes with her success.
Nicole Dickerson, selected by Morgan Stanley as a MAKERs in 2018, knows that she doesn't fit the typical image of a branch manager, and she's good with that. As a young, black woman heading up a fast-growing branch in one of Morgan Stanley's major markets, she sees herself as the reflection of a shifting corporate culture, both within the firm and throughout the financial services industry.
She is one of 17 outstanding professional women nominated by her peers and selected by Morgan Stanley executives to participate in MAKERS, a national program that identifies and celebrates accomplished professionals from a variety of fields and companies.
"Morgan Stanley is trying to broaden the face of leadership," says Nicole, Branch Manager of the Beverly Hills office. "There's so much predisposition in what we think a leader should look like that it's important to show the world that success can come in a multitude of shades and genders."
Nicole is a case in point. In 2007, she decided to change careers and was considering getting her MBA in finance. She went to a few university open houses to get a feel for their programs and heard a presentation on wealth management that sparked her interest.
At the time, Nicole had two friends working in the industry. One ran a hedge fund, and the other was an advisor with a large wealth management firm. The hedge fund manager told her he made big money by taking big risks. The wealth manager told her that he built his business by working with amazing clients who are now friends. "What I got was 'slow and steady wins the race,'" she says. "And that resonated with me."
So instead of going back to school to pursue her MBA, she took a massive cut in pay and responsibility to become an assistant at a financial services firm. That was in March of 2008, at the depths of the financial crisis. "I took one step backward so that I could take a thousand steps forward," she says.
When she became Branch Manager of the Beverly Hills office in 2016, Nicole faced two key challenges. The first was suddenly finding herself responsible for managing her former coworkers. The second was breaking down the silos that many of the branch's top Financial Advisors had built around their businesses.
The key to both was creating a culture of inclusivity and teamwork. "A consistent message of mine is that we are all in this together," she says. "Whatever decision we make, we are all going to have to stand behind it and believe in it."
Under that philosophy, no person or position is more important than any other, and everyone in the office shares responsibility for the branch's success. "With 54 Financial Advisors in this branch, I have realized that true success happens when Financial Advisors view all of their decisions through the lens of a shareholder," she notes.
Nicole has the added complexity of managing Financial Advisors who have been in the business longer than she's been alive. They also had been successfully running their practices on their own and weren't particularly interested in changing how they did things. "People who have been in this business for so long can develop a fixed mindset that their system is the best for themselves and their teams," she says.
With those blinders on, though, even well-entrenched Financial Advisors can miss the opportunities being created in a fast-changing world. So Nicole started chipping away at those silos by rolling up her sleeves to work as hard as they did to meet client needs. "This is one team, one dream," she says. "I'm only going to be as successful as my Financial Advisors are, and because I'm their intermediary within the firm, they are only going to be as successful as I am."
So when a Financial Advisor comes to her with something that requires an assist from corporate, they work together to make it happen. "We approach it with the understanding that we need to own this together," she says. "We craft the message together and then figure out how to get other people in the boat with us."
"It's an easier way to do business, and that's part of the cultural change that I'm trying to create here," she adds.
The results speak for themselves. The Beverly Hills branch is on track to post strong organic growth this year. "We changed the focus on how to help Financial Advisors be successful," she says. "Our Financial Advisors know that I'm advocating for them and will be shoulder to shoulder with them in terms of closing business and getting things done."
Looking ahead, she wants the rest of the Los Angeles marketplace place to know that the Beverly Hills office of Morgan Stanley is the best place for any Financial Advisor who wants to grow his or her business. She points to the strong support that she and her team have received from management and the deep resources available to help make Financial Advisors successful.
"I want to make sure my Financial Advisors know that when they bring in a prospect they can say, without a doubt, that this is the best firm in Beverly Hills," she says.
Jason Concepcion is a Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist at CU Direct, a technology leader that delivers lending solutions to financial institutions, auto dealers, retailers, and medical providers nationwide. As a progressive company that looks for the best diverse talent, CU Direct prides themselves on seeking and taking care of their employees.
We sat down with Jason to learn about CU Direct’s hiring process. Keep reading for his top 6 tips to put into practice when interviewing with CU Direct.
Tip # 1 Do Your Research
While it may seem obvious, learning about the company you’re interviewing for is crucial. “Before the interview, do some research on CU Direct, our products and services, and even our subsidiary companies,” says Jason. Doing the research will show the interviewer that you are highly interested and that “you did your due diligence in getting to know the company.” Check out their About page to get to know CU Direct and its various projects.
Tip #2 Ask Questions
It’s important to be transparent from the first point of contact with the company, which means asking questions to clarify and gain more information. Jason suggests, “when talking to the recruiter, ask questions. Go into that interview confident and prepared, making sure you have questions for them to figure out if you can succeed, have fun, and prosper with CU Direct. As a recruiter, we gather information and we want you to gather information, too.”
Tip #3 Take Your Time
Pace yourself in the interview. Jason explains that “it’s okay to pause, regroup, and answer questions. When asked about your experiences, taking your time will allow you to think of the situation, how you solved it, and what was the outcome.”
Tip #4 Ask Yourself, ‘What Do I Want to Do?’
Take inventory of what you have accomplished or learned in your professional trajectory so far. “We’re not just looking for what you’ve done, but we are also looking for what you can do and what you want to do,” says Jason. He believes that “those things are just as important as what you’ve done in the past. Your drive and determination will show us where you want to go and ideally, that will organically align with the positions we have here at our company.”
Tip #5 Understand the Job Description
With your resume in hand, consider what experiences best align with the job description. “Valuable work experience can be found almost anywhere. It can come from your first job or it can come from your most recent job,” Jason explains. Whatever small or short experience you have that matches the job description is worth mentioning and explaining, depending on the job you are applying for. Jason explains, “a good understanding of the job description you’re going for, and related positions within the company will give you a greater insight as to what we’re looking for and what you want to highlight or present in regards to this role.”
Tip #6 Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
One way to stand out in the interview process is to show that you’ll be a good values fit, so intentionality throughout, and after, the interview can go a long way. Jason suggests sending a thank you email after the interview. “This will make sure that you stand out in front of thousands of applicants,” he says. “Don’t make it generic, tailor the message including details mentioned in the interview, this will show the person that you were completely engaged throughout the interview.”
CU Direct’s personal and careful recruitment process is a reflection of their fun and innovative atmosphere, their value of team members, and commitment to growth. They offer several benefits to their employees, such as a flexible working environment, paid time off, 401k match, college tuition reimbursement, and an exciting company culture. Because of this, they want to make sure people are treated with the same kindness and positivity from the start. As Jason reiterates: “We want to make sure you are prepared and ready for each step of this process, from interviewing, to asking questions, and to possibly onboard in the future,” says Jason.
Are you interested to find out more about working at CU Direct? Check out their openings here!
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
Yun Freund considers her background to form the “typical immigrant story” — but sitting down with the SVP of Platform and Product at Equinix, it’s clear she’s made it her own.
“I came to the United States about 30 years ago with $80 in my pocket. I earned a CS degree from a Beijing university when computer science was new. I was good at math, so that’s what I studied,” explains Yun.
Fast forward a few decades, and Yun is now running one of the largest organizations at Equinix, a Fortune 500 digital infrastructure company focused on providing an interconnected platform to its global 10k customers. While focusing on external growth — the business has grown nearly 40% since her arrival — Yun has also invested in internal progress, especially when it comes to Equinix’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) goals.
“I know first-hand how hard it is, as an Asian and a woman, to be able to survive and excel at a workplace, and I’m proud of how Equinix has grown to be an amazing workplace where employees feel that they are safe, belong, and matter,” says Yun.
That’s not just her opinion. Glassdoor confirms this, having given the company a “best place to work” distinction in 2021, and a special award for best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality list by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
We were excited to learn more about Yun’s strategies for empowering her team — including her belief that making room for failure is just as important as celebrating success.
The Intersection of Technological Innovation and People Management
Yun first heard about Equinix through a recruiter. Decades into her career in tech leadership, she was looking for a role where she could drive innovation in both technology and people management.
“After many rounds of discussion with our executives, I realized Equinix is a company that’s full of potential. It was doing a lot of innovation on interconnected SaaS products and networking products, and I thought I could really help drive, from a culture and process perspective, the company's digital transformation journey,” reflects Yun.
Her first order of business? Building a strategy for scaling product development. Yun had long worked at the intersection of engineering and people management, and she embraced the challenge to scale a talent strategy as well as changing the culture.
That resulted in clear growth — not just for Yun’s career, as in promotions and new responsibilities, but also in what the company was able to do.
“Helping to cultivate a DevOps culture, move products to the Cloud for high reliability and availability, and build operational excellence for our customers is contributing to us fulfilling our purpose, which is to be the platform where the world comes together, enabling the innovations that enrich our work, life and planet,” says Yun.
Diverse Ways of Measuring Impact
Yun doesn’t manage her team by the balance sheet alone.
“Improving the bottom line, or operating more efficiently, is just as important as improving the top line, or driving more revenue and more customer adoption,” she says. “Sometimes it’s not about how we get new products and services out the door, but how we run things more efficiently.”
For Equinix, says Yun, that includes committing to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
“We’re a company that really touches life every day, from online shopping, to sending emails and streaming movies, to smart cars,” says Yun. “We want to be doing that sustainably. For example, by using AI and machine learning to lower our power consumption and using green sources of energy.”
Yun knows that to drive the most impact, Equinix needs a diverse team. She has partnered with other senior leaders and employee connection groups and started driving a more coherent DIB strategy across the company. She is excited to see the progress and wants to continue the effort in building a diverse and safe workplace for everyone — including by leading through her own example.
3 Key Ways to Empower Your Team
When Yun says that it’s important to empower your team, she doesn’t mean that you simply transfer the responsibility to your team and call it done. Here’s what she does mean:
- Embrace failure. “It’s easy to say, ‘Ah, empowerment. Here’s the purpose, go drive impact.’ But sometimes it’s not all rosy,” she says. “The road to empowerment can sometimes be a failure. How do you support your employees along the way? When they fail, you should not blame them. You should be there, on their side, to help them do a retrospective and learn from it.”
- Show trust via delegation. “Giving your team the opportunity to make their own decisions helps give them a purpose. It shows them they can make a difference. Accountability and ownership will help drive your team to have deeper engagement and commitments, and ultimately deliver results.”
- Tie individual responsibilities to company OKRs (Objectives, Key Results). “I always communicate to my team that every engineer and individual contributor’s work will have an impact on the business, no matter how small that is,” says Yun. For example, if an engineer is working on a new digital experience component for the customers, their work will contribute to some kind of business outcome such as, hours saved from many customer support calls or customer satisfaction score improvement, and that in turn drives operational efficiency and customer experience improvement for the whole business. “When employees realize their impact on the business, it elevates their motivation as well as their state of mind.”
💎For a successful job search you need to be very strategic, focused, and intentional about your career. Watch the video to the end to get advice on how to achieve it!
📼Be successful in your job search by identifying the career goals you’d like to achieve over the next 12 to 18 months. LaMont Price, Senior Recruiter, and Meg Fronckowiak, Senior Talent Acquisition Recruiter at Tenable, share with you the benefits of having a short-term career development plan and understanding your unique value proposition.
📼A successful job search requires you to take a deep dive into the job description. Look at your resume and try to match the skills and the qualifications and highlight that on your resume, so it stands out. Secondly, do your research. You want to make sure that you've taken a look at the company website. You've looked at the leadership of the company, the size of the company, and the culture of the company. And to go one step further, look at the interviewer. Look them up on LinkedIn, and take a look at their background. Recruiters always look for people who have great insightful questions that show the level of research the person did.
📼You’ll be successful in a job search if you know how to face the interview process. Every interview includes some don’ts. Don't be late. There's nothing worse than showing up late for an interview. Dress Professionally. Try to be in a quiet place so that you're not distracted. Get through the interview process, show that you're engaged, and have good body language. At the end of the interview, you always want to ask if there's any question that maybe you weren't able to answer. And always ask about the interview process to get a good understanding of the timeline.
A Successful Job Search Requires Research - Learn About A Company’s Values!
Recruiters need to know if you are aligned with the company’s culture. If you want to apply to Tenable, you should know that its core values are diversity, equity, and inclusion. They work together and they win together, and this is an idea that resonates throughout the entire organization. Tenable celebrates all of its employees. This allows them to focus on the equal representation of women and minorities in technical roles, sales roles, and leadership roles. The company provides training for all of its employees in diversity, equity, and inclusion. This helps employees to understand how their behaviors can impact others. Make sure to show that you are aligned with these values during your interview!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining Tenable? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know LaMont Price and Meg Fronckowiak
Over the last 25+ years, LaMont Price has researched, analyzed, and optimized services and products by exploiting the latest tools and tactics aligned with the strategic goal via Attention, Differentiation, Trust, and Memorability. Meg Fronckowiak has been working in the recruiting and talent attraction since 2003 and she spent the majority of her career working across all disciplines including, Building out GTM Teams, Accounting & Finance, Marketing, Operations, and Sales Leadership. If interested in a career at Tenable, you can connect with LaMont and Meg on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Tenable
Tenable empowers all organizations to understand and reduce their cybersecurity risk. Over 30,000 organizations, more than 50% being fortune 500 companies worldwide, rely on Tenable to help them understand and reduce cybersecurity risk. The company has some of the greatest minds. That’s because they bring people who come from diverse backgrounds and give them the resources and support to partner together to bring new ideas to life.