First Republic Bank
Senior Vice President,
Highbridge Capital Management
1. What about your career has surprised you the most?
Kelsey: That taking a step backwards actually did pay off…my first job out of college was in Sales and Trading at Morgan Stanley. My goal then was to make as much money as possible, to pay off my loans as quickly as possible, in order to have the freedom to ask myself what I wanted to do…and be able to act on that. After 5 years, I paid off my loans and ended up switching gears in what a lot of people considered an unconventional way…I went from an investment bank to a commercial bank, took a 60% pay cut and a lower title. What trumped those factors was my belief that being in a growing market, with smart people, while thinking outside the box would lead to opportunities I didn’t yet know existed. That ended up playing out as I had hoped. I have found an opportunity that fits my entrepreneurial spirit and allows me the financial freedom that’s important to me.
Katherine: The value of being optimistic. I think that if you believe a good outcome will happen, it’s more likely to happen -- it might not, but approaching the situation as if it will makes it more likely that you’ll persevere through the inevitable challenges. Also, it’s really nice working around optimistic people -- your colleagues will appreciate your positive outlook, probably even more than you think.
2. What about the future excites you?
Kelsey: That I have no idea where I will be…but I know it’s going to be good. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such impressive, authentic and driven people day in and day out (Parity included). I truly believe we will build something together that is great for us individually and the markets/people we care about.
Katherine: I recently made a big zig-zag in my career after ten years in finance. For the first time in my life, I don’t know exactly what I will be doing and where I’ll be professionally in one year. Having a blank sheet of paper is exciting and liberating, and it has encouraged me do things I never thought I would (or even could) do. It’s also scary!
3. What about the future scares you?
Kelsey: Staying healthy, maintaining a balance between family/work/ friends/skiing/travelling and forgetting to slow down.
Katherine: See #2
4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?
Kelsey: The Phantom Tollbooth…I’ve been reading this book since I was a kid. Each time I read it, I learn something new about myself, while also reconnecting with my childhood self…an interesting juxtaposition. I have a tendency to gogogo and overanalyze…this book is a constant reminder to me to slow down, to channel my inner kid and to welcome the unknown even when I don’t know where it’s going to lead.
Katherine: I love reading biographies about strong leaders whom I admire. Two favorites are The Last Lion, which covers Winston Churchill, and Ron Chernow’s Hamilton. Their stories, among those of many others, show the enormous impact that a single person can have. For me, these stories are inspiring and empowering.
5. What lesson do you wish you had learned earlier in your career?
Kelsey: Everything is temporary…I have a tendency to over-think, over-plan, over-analyze (shout out to all my type-A sisters out there). Once I realized that I’m never going to know the outcome when I’m making a decision, I felt free to try things and learn and iterate….and I think I’ve grown immensely by allowing myself to fumble a bit.
Katherine: There are real benefits to taking calculated risks at certain points in your career. I took little risk during the first ten years of mine. Along these lines, invest in yourself, and concentrate your risk in yourself.
6. What is your favorite P3 moment?
Kelsey: When Nina Stepanov introduced herself during the first P3 talk as, “Hi. I’m Nina. And I’m weird.” Perfect example of the authenticity that makes this fun and fulfilling.
Katherine: The sum total of all the little P3 moments that have made me feel like I’m part of a community that is 100% behind me and cheering me on. Thank you P3!
7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?
Kelsey: Prioritize by sender…I call them my foot soldiers. The people who go above and beyond to support you, the people you care about, the ones that stick their neck out for you-and expect nothing in return. There’s a group of us who truly want to see each other succeed and they are the most important to me.
Katherine: I read once that your email inbox is like a to do list written by people other than yourself. I try to approach each day with a clear list of priorities that I set for myself and allocate time according to that.
8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?
Kelsey: Ellie Wheeler…she’s done an incredible job of building her personal brand and I’m curious as to how. @Ellie - If you’re reading this…hit me up @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine: If I could meet one person for dinner it would be Hillary Clinton without a doubt (even though she’s not in my industry). I had my first job interning for her Senate office, started Harvard Students for Hillary Clinton in 2007 and helped out on both of her presidential campaigns. Meeting her one-on-one would be a dream come true. There are so many questions I would love to ask her.