The Importance of Growing a Positive Reputation and Other Top Advice for Career Pivots

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Stacie Yates

Stacie Yates. Photo courtesy of Macquarie Asset Management.

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Fairygodboss
May 29, 2024 at 3:22AM UTC
“Experience is nothing more than going through a bunch of events and learning from them,” shares Stacie Yates, Associate Director, Macquarie Asset Management, Wealth Solutions. “As a result, your career is a journey. It’s the gathering of those experiences and later applying them to help you do better in the future.”
In her own career journey, Yates recalls improving and honing her skills over time. “For example, I remember when I was a junior attorney working with a senior attorney on a document,” Yates notes. “She just rattled out the language. I was in awe because, at that time in my career, it took a long time to craft the right language. However, I realize that I’m now doing exactly what she did so many years ago.” Experience and growth can come so gradually it surprises you!
And it was through gaining a wealth of experience and viewing everything around her as a learning opportunity that Yates was able to make a career pivot to become the financial services leader she is today.
Read on for a closer look at Yates’ career journey, what she’s learned along the way, her top three pieces of advice for career pivoters and how Macquarie Group has supported her.

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did your career journey start?

I didn’t know that I wanted to go into financial services. I am a first-generation American; my parents immigrated from Jamaica and our family settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I was born and raised. I didn’t see pathways to financial services in my community, and Cincinnati was more of a manufacturing and ‘traditional business’ type of city. 
My introduction into financial services began as a teenager when I visited New York City for the 200th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. I happened to be down in around Wall Street with family, and there was something about that day and place that made me say, “I want to do this. I want to be here.
Heading to college, I was really interested in international issues and current events happening outside of the U.S. My goal was to help address the third-world debt crisis, and I graduated with a liberal arts degree.
After college, I moved to NYC to look for a job in that field, but they are few and far between. I wound up as an executive assistant in an advertising agency, and then at a well-known private philanthropic foundation. 
I continued working as an executive assistant and made the pivotal decision to attend Fordham University Graduate School of Arts’ International Political Economy and Development program. During this time, I would work full-time during the day and go to school at night to receive my Master’s degree. I knew I wanted to do more

What made you decide to fully change your career and join the financial services world? 

After graduate school, I applied for law school with the goal of being an international lawyer who could help emerging countries work with companies to develop their economy. However, as I progressed through law school, I began to realize that international law wasn’t for me. I explored other options and landed a summer internship at a large firm in NYC that had an investment funds group (e.g., mutual funds, private equity and hedge funds). Then, I secured a job as a lawyer there after I graduated. 
Fast forward to today, and I’ve been in alternative investments for over 22 years now. An alternative investment is one that traditionally can’t be bought on a stock market like an equity. Other names for these types of investments are private equity funds, hedge funds or private markets funds.

What are your top three pieces of advice for other women who are thinking about making a career pivot? 

Based on my own experience, I would say to focus on your:
  1. Reputation
    • For me, personally, my reputation is my most valuable asset I have and one that I need to protect. I’m in an extremely small industry, and my reputation has preceded me multiple times before. For instance, I’ve been in meetings where I have introduced myself and someone says, “I’ve heard of you.” And I’m proud that what they’ve heard has always been positive. I believe I’ve excelled in my career because the people who I’ve met over the years know my work ethic, me as a person and my skillsets.
  2. Making sure you leave the door open behind you
    • If you are the first woman, or in my case the first woman of color, in a position, make sure you leave the door open for those women that will come behind you to make sure you are not the last.  The way you perform, act and show up to work each day will shape the way people see women and women of color in that job and will make future decisions based on how you act.  
  3. It’s okay to not know the answer
    • A lot of times we think that we have to know everything or we’re not doing our job. I learned that it’s okay to not know the answer at that time, let people know that and then you go find the answer.  

Moving on, could you tell us how Macquarie has supported you since you joined the company.

I’ve been with Macquarie over 24 months and started during the pandemic. Joining at that time of significant disruption meant that I needed to be especially curious. I watched videos on what each of the Macquarie businesses were doing and asked my colleagues lots of questions. And, when I would learn of someone new or a person doing something that piqued my interest, I would reach out to that person to learn more. 
I wanted to let people know who I was, that I was invested in my role and Macquarie as well as to get to know my colleagues on a deeper level, further ingraining myself in the firm and its culture.
By being proactive, I broadened my circle and built my community. I now have a pool of people that I can tap into as needed. For example, if I need to figure out who handles something in the firm, I will reach out to a colleague that has been here for a bit longer and ask if they could point me in the right direction. Or, if I have a mom issue – because I’m a mother of three – I know who I can reach out to at my firm for support and guidance. 

What do you find most rewarding about your current work? 

I’ve always looked out for opportunities to do something new and different. At Macquarie, my new role provided me with the opportunity to start building out a new innovative business line — which to me, is my dream job.
To be part of a large global asset manager, bringing a new business stream to life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I want to make sure that when I look back on my career, I can be really happy about the impact I’ve had on the industry.

What are your favorite things about working at Macquarie? 

One of the things that I like about Macquarie is that, in addition to an interesting job, the organization is aligned with my personal social valuesMacquarie is a company that really cares. It’s not just about profit. Our people care about each other, and I’m proud that we also care about society and communities outside of the firm. Macquarie puts real money and time into thoughtfully and strategically supporting social issues such as its Racial Equity Fund.
In addition, we have staff-led employee network groups that support the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and amplify the voices of under-represented groups. The groups focus on social issues that I think are important for organizations to support and address in today’s society. These groups are sponsored by Macquarie with senior leadership support and opportunities to exchange ideas, build relationships and contribute to a more inclusive culture where we appreciate each other and our differences. The focus of these groups spans race, ethnicity, culture, heritage, gender, LGBTQ+, families and careers, and veterans, which I think is fantastic. 
Since joining Macquarie, I’ve become the Americas representative for Macquarie Asset Management’s global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee — which is a true honor. The committee works with all the regions to see how we can continue building a workforce that reflects all aspects of diversity and make sure that our people feel comfortable and are welcomed completely into the firm.
 

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