Georgette Kiser, M.B.A. ’04, is a vice president at T. Rowe Price where she manages the global business solutions investments area. She participates on many outside boards including the Merrick School of Business’ Dean's Advisory Council, The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland Trustee Board, and Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Board.
Kiser recently sat down with the Merrick Exchange and shared some thoughts about her career and women who serve in corporate leadership roles.
Merrick Exchange: How did you decide on a career in the finance industry?
Kiser: I had been in the aerospace and consultancy business prior to the finance industry. During my consultancy days, while consulting at Fannie Mae, I began to gain an interest in finance while working on models for mortgaged backed securities.
ME: Where did you get your start? What lead to your current position?
Kiser: My career started at General Electric as a software engineer within GE’s technical leadership development program in their Aerospace Unit. GE’s program, along with leadership training at T. Rowe Price, developed me for the senior leadership role I have today at T. Rowe Price.
ME: How would you describe your current position at T. Rowe Price?
Kiser: My position at T. Rowe Price is a very challenging leadership role where I manage global teams that provide decision support solutions, analytical reporting needs, and technical systems for the investment managers, analysts, traders, and investment operations. These solutions can encompass people, process, and technology. My role requires leadership, management, business, analytical, quantitative, technical, people, and process skills. It is a lot of responsibility and a lot to think about daily.
ME: What are some of the challenges that you, your department or company face in elevating women to leadership roles?
Kiser: Prior to answering this question, we have to realize that within the investment management industry as a whole the number of women at senior levels has been low. But the number continues to grow as women become more familiar with the industry, and as we teach young ladies in middle/elementary school the importance of finances and expose them to careers in the industry for the future. T. Rowe Price does a very good job of elevating women in leadership roles and continues to work on creative ways to achieve that goal. We have a Management Committee that understands the diverse workplace, the importance of having one, and the benefits to the firm and our clients. A major challenge is finding the strategic talent that wants to and is able to balance their career between work, family, and personal at the leadership level. As the old saying goes “To Whom Much Is Given, Much is Expected.” As a leader, no matter who you are, you have to perform at the highest level when in these leadership roles. Much is expected and you have to be self aware enough to know if you can balance work and family to function at that level.
ME: What can you tell us about your work to recruit, develop and promote women leaders across T. Rowe Price?
Kiser: As a manager of a global team, my role is to hire diverse talent that will keep the firm growing and meeting the needs for our clients. I make sure my direct report managers and peers are well aware of any diversity challenges across our team and that we continue to work to improve. We have very open, honest conversations and work together to improve. I sit on T. Rowe Price’s Women’s Roundtable, which is an organization that works to provide guidance on the development, advancement and support of our female associates in the different stages of their T. Rowe Price career. As a group, we take a deep understanding of the global needs, interests and differences of working women, both externally and internally. This enables us to create and manage strategic plans that can help develop stronger recruiting and retention, as well as foster career advancement for leadership positions. We firmly believe that in doing this, T. Rowe Price will deliver value to the firm and its clients.
ME: What are some of the unique strengths women bring to leadership roles at T. Rowe Price?
Kiser: Leaders possess various traits, and some are stronger in some than in others: vision, power, integrity, values, charisma, adaptability, intelligence, confidence, influence, strategic thinking, etc. These are traits that all leaders possess one or more of, but I would not say they are unique to one gender. Because at the end of the day, it’s all in how these leaders leverage their traits that enables them to organize a group to achieve a common goal.
ME: What were your expectations when you began your career?
Kiser: When I started my career, my expectation was to always do my best at any task given and to always learn from any task and teach the next person. I learned that if you teach someone else that frees you up to learn more and grow.
ME: What advice would you give to students who might want to pursue a career in your field but are undecided?
Kiser: Love to learn. Don’t set out to learn a topic just to get it done -- have a passion for learning, and be intellectually curious. When we interview at T. Rowe Price that is one item we look for in candidates: Are they lifelong learners?
ME: What's the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew?
Kiser: Students need to do thorough research on a firm before their first interview. I have spoken to so many that have come for interviews and you could tell they did no research on the firm at all. Lack of research tells me right away that you do not want the job because you did not take the time to learn.
ME: Why did you choose to attend UB?
Kiser: I had already obtained a masters degree in mathematics prior to working on my M.B.A. But I wanted to obtain an M.B.A. to deepen my finance knowledge and broaden my understanding with respect to management, business strategy, marketing, organizational behavior, etc. All of these are core competencies that I needed to strengthen my business knowledge, management skills and leadership skills. I chose UB after looking at all of the local programs and realizing that UB had a curriculum with the academics I was looking for; a diverse student body that would allow for engaging conversations during classes and group assignments, and the flexibility I needed to balance my work and family schedule.
ME: How has attending UB helped you in your career?
Kiser: UB has helped my career by enhancing my skills further so that I can continue to grow within the firm and on external boards. I clearly remember my organizational behavior class at UB and how that class helped me to think about different behaviors in the workplace and how to deal with them. Personal career development, how to develop teams, motivation, active listening, conflict handling, corporate cultures – all of these items help me to develop, manage and lead teams in my current career.
ME: What personal goal have you set for yourself this year?
Kiser: Every year, my top goal is to be a better person than I was the prior year. That may sound corny to some, but it helps me to work positively within my career and at home.
ME: What is the last book you read?
Kiser: I just finished The Other Wes Moore for a second time. My sons had to read it for Boys’ Latin One Book, One BL Event. I read it last year, but read it again with my sons. A clear theme that comes from the book is EXPECTATIONS. It so important that we set positive expectations for ourselves and especially for our youth, so they know what is expected of them and they try to meet that expectation. Last week I actually got to hear the speaker Wes Moore at an event sponsored by Advocates for Children and Youth at the Renaissance Hotel. He is a great speaker and he stressed that the expectations his mother set on him, others set on him, and now the ones he sets himself make him continue to grow to be the positive leader he is today.
ME: What does your future look like?
Kiser: I’m passionate about what I do for my career, my family, and my community. I firmly believe that if you are passionate about what you do you’ll find enjoyment in it daily. So my future is very bright.