Markets Media recently brought together 250 professionals from firms that support the financial markets to celebrate the Markets Choice Awards. We caught up with Allison Gott, Senior Vice President at Citadel Securities, to better understand what has allowed her to consistently perform at a high level and to garner advice for other women in finance.
Allison, congratulations again on receiving this award. What initially inspired you to pursue a career in the financial markets?
I went to Washington University in St. Louis and was initially interested in broadcast journalism. That interest led me to intern at Bloomberg Television. I was involved with all facets of production that summer, but ultimately I found the finance part of the business more interesting than the journalism part. Without having an open mind, I might not have found my true passion.
The following summer I accepted an internship in sales and trading at a bank. On the first day, I was given a metal folding chair and a portable phone to plug into trading turrets. It was one of those “welcome to Wall Street” moments. I enjoyed the camaraderie and pace of the work. Every day offered a new chance for our team to win. From that summer, I was hooked on making an impact in the financial markets.
What experiences helped you succeed early on in your career?
Imagine you are two years into your career and one of the biggest events in the history of your industry hits. This was the reality for me when we confronted the 2008 financial crisis. Suddenly, in a trading role, I was dealing with the fallout from government bailouts and significant market volatility. I look back and realize that this time was challenging, but it laid the foundation for my ability to constantly adapt to new challenges. I think it goes without saying that those just starting out in their career should seek out challenges as it helps professional and often times personal development.
What intrigued you about Citadel Securities?
Prior to joining Citadel Securities, I was at a bank where the work environment was slower and more bureaucratic. Citadel Securities felt and continues to feels like an environment that values working quickly and nimbly. We’re constantly creating and refining products that best suit our customers’ needs and that, coupled with working alongside top industry talent, has provided a solid recipe for keeping me intrigued and engaged.
What are the top leadership skills you draw on in your position?
Listening and showing empathy are two skills I go back to again and again. This is an incredibly fast-paced environment where business is executed and clients often measure success in fractions of seconds. However, not all issues can be solved in seconds. It’s important to understand the big picture for our clients so that we can provide effective and efficient solutions. Improving listening and showing empathy are industry agnostic, and it’s not just for professionals. I try to teach my young children the same skills.
Another skill, and it sounds simple, but it’s something I’ve always believed in is literally picking up the phone. I recognize I am not always the subject matter expert, and that’s okay. We have top talent and resources at Citadel, and I think in any leadership role one has to know how and when to draw on that talent and those resources to get to a desired result.
Finally, what advice do you have for other women who are moving into leadership roles in the industry?
I truly believe that you make your own luck. But that doesn’t mean doing it all on your own in a vacuum. It’s important to seek out mentors who can offer a variety of perspectives and continually challenge you. There is value in shared experiences and shared learnings. For women moving into leadership roles I’d recommend not waiting until someone more junior reaches out to you. Instead, be proactive in helping the next generation of talent grow. My priority is developing the rising stars of the future.