Markets Media recently brought together 400 finance professionals from hedge funds, market makers, banks, exchanges, and technology providers to celebrate the 2017 Women in Finance Awards. We caught up with Citadel’s two award winners, Lucy DeStefano and Kimberly Jensen, to better understand what has allowed them to succeed over the course of their careers. This week we’ll focus on the conversation we had with Lucy DeStefano. She is the Head Trading for Aptigon Capital at Citadel and received the Top Trader (Equities) Award. Next week we’ll hear from Kimberly Jensen, Lead Quantitative Researcher for Surveyor Capital at Citadel.
Lucy, congratulations again on receiving this award. What initially inspired you to pursue a career in the financial markets?
While in college, I was convinced I would go into teaching. However, my parents encouraged me to apply for a finance internship the summer before my senior year. They thought I would like the speed and competitive nature of sales and trading. We should trust our parents. I spent a humbling summer at NationsBanc Montgomery Securities helping a financial advisor process paper work. While my responsibilities were narrow, I was exposed to a broad array of functions including private wealth management, sales, trading, and research.
I felt exhilarated by the pace of the markets and loved the access to smart people who were passionate about their careers. I returned to school for my senior year, applied to a handful of banks and ended up getting a job at Goldman Sachs. I started in a research role and moved to trading after a year.
What experiences helped you succeed early on in your career?
I grew up playing sports, and at times, on co-ed teams. Because of those experiences, I was comfortable working with men in a team environment, as well as giving and receiving constructive criticism. All of this suited me well when I started on the International Trading Desk at Goldman Sachs and was working with more men than women. While that might seem potentially intimidating, I did not even think about it. I just challenged myself to consistently improve and focus on my team’s goals. I loved the trading environment.
While my childhood sports cultivated my teaming skills, my mentoring at Goldman Sachs taught me to be a life-long learner. This thirst for learning has allowed me to tackle tough challenges and make the most of the opportunities in front of me.
Then in 2016 you joined us at Citadel. We’re so glad you joined us. Tell us what intrigued you about the firm.
I met Rich Schimel, Head of Aptigon Capital at Citadel, in the summer of 2016. We spoke about the team’s culture and his views on leadership. He and I both held similar views on the value a good trading team could add to a portfolio manager’s investment process. I found the opportunity to join an entrepreneurial team inside Citadel quite compelling.
What are the top leadership skills you draw on in your position?
I try to lead in a way that is reflective of the environments in which I thrive the most: a flat structure with lots of accountability and ownership. I encourage the team to take advantage of all the tools and educational opportunities the firm has to offer because the market demands that we get better every day. I also love to read books on leadership in the military and in the technology industry. Both areas are similar to investment management, in that, success demands constant adaptation to fluid environments.
Finally, what advice do you have for other women who are moving into leadership roles in the industry?
My parents always encouraged me to refrain from comparing myself to others, and instead, focus on improving against my own benchmarks. This childhood lesson has been critical to what I’ve achieved in my career. I would encourage other women in the industry to carve out their own path. No need to compare your path to someone else’s path. I’d also advise you to cultivate support at home for your professional development. My husband has been my biggest advocate by encouraging me to take risks and leap towards opportunities. In summary, have courage, put your hand up, and do not look back.