Women in Finance Awards Q&A: Kate James, ChartIQ12.23.2019
Kate James, Director of Institutional Sales at ChartIQ, won Excellence in Fintech at Markets Media’s 2019 Women in Finance Awards.
What is the ‘secret of your success’?
When you help build a start-up, the funny thing is you never feel moments of success big enough to celebrate, only moments of relief. You land the first whale, moment of relief, now go bring in 17 more. The next round of funding comes in, moment of relief, now go build a team. I am so grateful to Markets Media and the Women in Finance committee for making me stop and reflect on what those moments of relief have added up to. The work is never done at ChartIQ, but I see this award as a sign that I’m moving in the right direction.
Which mentor(s) have helped you most in your career, and how?
When I turned thirty, I changed careers and moved into technology sales at (now) Refinitiv. At the time I was fairly senior in my finance role, but sales…I had never sold anything in my life, had never seen a market data terminal, and had no concept of the buy-side and sell-side. Those are pretty big deficits to a market data firm! I was fortunate to find someone who took a chance on me – I walked into his office one day, and told him I could outperform anyone on his team. He bought it. He recognized my hunger and wanted to see where it could lead. Looking back, I applaud my thirty-year-old audacity! But most of all I am deeply grateful for the opportunity. It’s a personal reminder to believe and invest in those around me, and give people the opportunity to evolve. He now runs a 400-person sales team at Salesforce and is killing the game, so he’s still every bit of hero to me today. After this year’s Women in Finance Awards, I texted him “Look what you started.”
How important is it to recognize women in the financial industry?
It isn’t important, it’s critical. As long as women earn $0.86 on the dollar to our male counterparts, there is a need to recognize women who are trailblazing in historically male-dominated industries. As someone in the cross-hairs of both finance and technology, I personally look forward to a time when no one thinks twice about a woman running a trading desk or a female CTO. I also know I speak for every woman when I say the progress we’ve made to date is not lost on us. Every generation builds on the progress handed down, and we are excited to do our part. Together we will inch it up over 90 cents for our daughters.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
It feels like another lifetime, but growing up I played the oboe for many years. It’s one of those obscure instruments that has a terrible reputation because of 4th grade band class, but like all things in life, when done well it’s pretty special. Every weekend I went into Philadelphia to study music theory and music composition, and play in quintet and orchestra rehearsals. Music is a language everyone should learn at some point – it’s like Italian, even if you wait until retirement it still pays off. My favorite composers are Dvořák and Tchaikovsky, but when I really need to get in the zone and be laser focused, it’s Yo-Yo Ma’s cello suite. Definitely have a listen on Spotify if you need some zen this holiday season.
What is your advice for women considering or just starting financial careers?
There has never been a better time to make your mark and grow in finance – and there are few industries where you can secure your own personal financial future like you can here. One thing I would recommend to anyone interested or young in their career, is to learn to speak up for yourself early and often. Whether that means standing up for what you want, what you believe, or just making yourself heard – I learned that as a woman this will make waves and get you in hot water sometimes, but at the end of the day everyone in the room will respect you. And the only way to the top is through respect.
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