‘Life Isn’t a Dress Rehearsal’: Lessons on Career Growth From a CIO

Sponsored by Fidelity Investments

Brooke Forbes

Photo courtesy of Brooke Forbes

May 23, 2024 at 12:23PM UTC

Ten years ago, Brooke Forbes was on the brink of a major life change.

After an eclectic career that had taken her across 14 companies and lines of business — from sales and marketing to business development, operations, and software development — Forbes and her family were preparing to move to Singapore, where she’d be next in line for a role she considered a “bucket-list opportunity.” With little more than a week before the move set to take place, however, something happened that led Forbes to completely alter course. She took an interview at Fidelity Investments, fell in love with its culture, and hasn’t looked back since. 

Fidelity Is Hiring! Browse Opportunities.

“I was on a completely different trajectory,” Forbes recalled of that pivotal moment in her life, “but that’s how powerful Fidelity is. The culture of family here, and how people work together and collaborate and treat the associates, was just so incredibly potent to me during that interview process. I fell in love with the people and I fell in love with the culture, and that’s remained true during my entire experience here. It’s just been unbelievable.” 

Nearly a decade after going with her gut and shifting career paths, Forbes now serves as Chief Information Officer and Head of Technology for Fidelity Investments’ Personal Investing division. Although she says she now can recognize that “everything I’ve done professionally has sort of culminated in this moment,” earlier in her career, she “never would’ve anticipated” that she’d choose to stay with the same organization for 10 years.

“What I had found previously is that if I wanted to change or grow, I had to change companies,” she recalled. “I think the really unique thing about Fidelity is that we have associates who’ve been here 20 to 30 years, which I didn’t see in the other companies I’ve worked for.” 

The reason for that, Forbes added, is that it’s possible to “have 10 or 15 different careers in a 10-year period here.”

“One thing that’s constant about Fidelity is change, and our ability to move and change with markets and opportunities in a way that creates an incredible amount of job opportunity, growth, and mobility for our associates. For me, I found that every six months, my portfolio was always changing, people were changing, and new initiatives were always coming up. It constantly feels fresh.”

Of course, a culture of continuous innovation is essential for an organization that’s as focused on technology as Fidelity. When people ask Forbes if Fidelity is a financial services company or a technology company, she’s able to answer that, truly, it’s both. 

“Before joining Fidelity, I had no idea how much innovation actually happens here,” Forbes explained. “In my role, I’m overseeing about 2,000 of our associates worldwide who are helping support and transform the digital tech ecosystem every single day. We have an incredible team where their full-time focus — all they do and all they work on — is specifically the technology tools our associates use to be productive in any job role they’re in, whether they’re a frontline financial advisor sitting in our Investor Centers with customers, in our contact center, working as a software developer or as an executive.”

Technology touches all parts of life at Fidelity, whether it’s being used to support the careers of its global network of associates or to help customers actualize their financial planning goals. In the end, it all comes back to the company’s unique position at the intersection of the “human experience and the digital experience,” Forbes says, which she’s ultimately able to use in a way that empowers others.

“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, and financial planning is really critical for anything in life that we want to achieve,” Forbes said. “Money is a very emotional thing for all of us and certainly for our customers. The heritage this company has of helping others plan for their future — I would tell you that almost every single associate here feels a direct affinity to that mission and that cause.”

Forbes herself certainly does, which is one of many reasons she looks forward to seeing how her career path and impact continues to evolve at Fidelity. “I’m incredibly excited about the work we’ve got ahead of us over the next couple years to digitize our business even further,” she said. “And I hope to be here another 10 years, if not 10 years after that.”

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