Lauren Simmons: The Only Black Woman In The NYSE
Working on Wall Street is challenging to say the least, but not for Lauren Simmons. She is the only 23-year-old equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities, the youngest and the only full-time female employee to hold that position at the NYSE.
Simmons moved to New York after graduating from Kennesaw State University in December 2016. The Georgia peach had interned at a local clinical treatment center in college while earning a BA in genetics with a minor in statistics. She had planned to pursue a career in the medical field, but after realizing that medicine wasn’t her passion, she started searching for opportunities in other industries. She started her role in March 2017 but says her employment was up to her passing the Series 19, the exam all floor brokers must pass to earn their badge.
“It’s surreal,” she says.
Simmons started applying to positions in finance because she had loved numbers since high school and eventually got her current position at Rosenblatt Securities by applying to an opening posted on LinkedIn.
“The one thing that I love about numbers and statistics, and kind of one of the reasons I came to the New York Stock Exchange, is because numbers are a universal language,” she explains. “When you put them on a board it connects everyone, which is probably one of the reasons why the New York Stock Exchange is so iconic.”
When I see statistics that say ’80 percent don’t get through,’ I look at the 20 percent,” she explained. “So when everyone kept saying, ‘It’s a hard test. Don’t worry if you don’t pass,’ for me, I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this.”
And she did just that. Lauren prepared for the exam in just a month where others prepare for months and don’t make it. This is significant because the exam is heavily based in financial principles and concepts. Despite her math background, Simmons had not studied finance in college, and had to study hard to prepare for the 19 exams. When she passed (“It shocked everyone”), she calmed her doubts about whether she could manage the role. It also proved to the men on the floor that she was equipped to work alongside them.
Simmons says the best advice that she can give anyone trying to prepare for a career on Wall Street, especially women, is to not limit themselves.
“Be uncomfortable and go after what you want,” she says. “Apply for the job — you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don’t get the job, it’s OK. Apply for the next job and move forward. Don’t let that be a stop in your career, your life or whatever you want to do. I think it’s important to just keep going.”
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