To highlight the important work and impressive achievements of women in financial services, the STA Women in Finance Committee is pleased to highlight women from all areas of the industry who aim to inspire the next generation of women in finance.
This month, we’re highlighting the career of Brandis DeSimone, VP and Head of Data Sales – Americas at Nasdaq. Brandis joined Nasdaq’s data team in 2018 to expand the business and elevate Nasdaq’s role at a critical time when the markets experienced fundamental shifts driven by technology and increased retail participation. If there’s one thing that has defined Brandis’ role over the past year, it is making Nasdaq a go-to data source for all investors. She is in lockstep with the pace of the industry and the demand for real-time, high-quality data, empowering her team to be true client partners. Read the interview below for more on her unconventional career path and her hopes for the future of the industry
– Inessa Ruffman, STA WIF Chair
VP and Head of Data Sales
Why did you choose a career in the financial services industry? How did you get started?
My professional career has been unconventional. I joined corporate America after having the privilege of serving in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. During my time in the Navy, I honed my leadership abilities and tenacity; however, after my service finding employment in corporate America was a daunting task.
My breakthrough came when Janet Hanson, the founder of 85 Broads (now known as Ellevate Network), introduced me to three accomplished women in the financial services industry, all of whom were distinguished graduates of U.S. service academies. From these women and many others, I learned how my experience in the Navy intersected with financial services, which propelled me into my first job in finance, the trading floor at Merrill Lynch.
How has the industry changed in the time that you’ve been part of it?
My career began right before the turmoil of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and in 2011 I transitioned to the fintech realm and joined Nasdaq. This was during a pivotal time in financial services when there was a fundamental shift toward implementing technology to be more efficient. Firms began to look for more unique and interesting insights from market data and younger generations started to drive change in finance.
In tandem with these changes, women took the industry by storm and challenged the status quo, so much so that the status quo changed to keep pace with industry-wide innovation. Opportunities were created, and it became the right environment for the globalization of finance with the ability to reach previously inaccessible markets and individuals. Now, there is more sophisticated market participation and equal access to the markets and investing, unlocking potential, jobs, learning and financial security to build generational wealth.
What are you most proud of in your career and why?
I’m most proud of the community I’m building and the continuous opportunities and efforts to help women succeed in the workplace. In a male-dominated field, I have always tried to look for opportunities to lift up other women. In 2014, I spearheaded the founding of “Women in Nasdaq” (WIN), a group that strives to support women within the workplace. WIN was the first diversity and inclusion initiative that started at the company and now is available to employees in our offices around the globe. Additionally, I co-established Nasdaq’s Veterans Group to help give my fellow veterans at the company, as well as those who will serve in the future, the resources they need to succeed in this industry.
What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
I envision a future where women feel empowered to do more than just have a seat at the proverbial table – and where they feel empowered to share their voices and lift each other up. As women rise through the ranks in their careers, it’d be great to continue to see a proliferation of professional communities. Having a network of female mentors, managers and project leaders who can help the next generation learn how to navigate high-stakes environments, self-advocate and execute under pressure is key.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the next generation of women in finance?
There is no secret to success. It really comes down to having confidence and being intentional about relationships. Having personal and professional networks to lean on has helped me get to where I am today. It can start with something as simple as asking someone for a coffee chat to learn more about their career path and get to know them on a personal level.