Stephanie Gordon – Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am a Vice President in Corporate Banking covering U.S. Municipal Markets at RBC Capital Markets. After graduating from Harvard, a former colleague and mentor recommended I enter Bank of America’s 18-month credit training program in New York. I have been a banker covering a variety of industries in an underwriting capacity ever since.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

In my role, I work with multiple people across product groups and am responsible for coordinating all of our work into a cohesive solution for our clients. This requires managing different personalities and conflicting priorities, often under stressful deadlines. Thankfully many of my colleagues have also become friends (late night commiserating and celebratory happy hours have helped), but we continuously face new challenges.

What is your proudest achievement?

My latest achievement is becoming a homeowner. Walking into my new home was a very proud moment because it represented the culmination of my life achievements and the fortitude that made them possible. Specifically, it reflects the focus and determination I maintained to successfully matriculate through the Mt. Vernon public school system, earn a Harvard degree, and grow into a respected professional entering a very exciting time in my career. It is also a testament to the amazing and supporting group of friends and family I have carefully crafted that have helped me along the way, especially my parents who taught me the value of thriftiness at an early age and consequently put up with me moving back home after college to save money.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

I have always admired Maya Angelou for dedicating her talent to promoting civil rights and women’s empowerment with grace and distinction in a way that resonates across demographics and has become an integral part of our American History. Another doer I greatly admire is Misty Copeland for continuing the tradition of breaking down barriers and stereotypes for black women as a principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre and using her success to become a spokeswoman and role model.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I like to think I get better with age so I see a better version of myself in 10 years. I expect to have greater influence and impact professionally and civically that will enhance the goals, reach and bottom line of the organizations I am aligned with. I also see myself expanding my family, growing my network and developing relationships with the next group of leaders…like the members of my 2016 CUP Fellowship Class (shout out!).

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?

I have been a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring Program for years and have had the good fortune of being paired with two amazing little sisters over that time. I met my first little, Anixa Martinez, very early on in my career and at the end of our initial meeting she told me she was considering dropping out of high school (a sophomore at the time). I thought I was in way over my head, but over the next three years I watched her become more confident, earn better grades, apply to internships & set career goals, and eventually go on to college. We kept in touch and at 23 years old I was in awe of the women she had become. She was intellectually curious, socially conscious, responsible, and in touch with herself. Anixa changed me by showing me a different path toward success, a path I could not envision after our first meeting, and how that success is individually defined. Last year she suddenly passed away shortly after we last met, but her impact on me will last forever.

What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?

Through the first three sessions, I am already gaining a better understanding of myself, identifying my challenges, and developing strategies to maximize the impact of my strengths. I am also cultivating relationships with a dynamic group of urban professionals across industries that inspire, motivate, and share their diverse resources. Overall, I see that this fellowship and the broader CUP membership will provide me with the teaching, network and support I will need to generate greater social impact while encouraging others along the way.