13 June 2019

Western Asset Supports “Girls Who Invest”

By Suzanne Trepp

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made...It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Historically, the most senior positions at asset managers have been overwhelmingly dominated by men, who represent approximately 50% of the population, but hold more than 90% of senior roles at “buy-side” firms. Hence in 2015 the “Girls Who Invest” (GWI) program was started by Seema Hingorani, former Chief Investment Officer of the $160 billion New York City Retirement System. GWI is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering young women to pursue investment careers in the asset management industry through educational training, access to paid internships, mentorship opportunities and engagement with the GWI community. Western Asset became a GWI sponsor last year, when Bonnie Wongtrakool, Western Asset’s Global Head of ESG Investments, spoke at one of GWI’s fixed-income panels at the University of Notre Dame in June 2018.

This year, more than 900 women applied to GWI’s flagship 10-week college summer program to study core financial and investing concepts, and only 150 talented scholars were carefully selected from more than 60 colleges and universities across the country. Each scholar spends four weeks at one of GWI’s academic partners—such as the University of Pennsylvania or the University of Notre Dame—with leading business school professors before dispersing across the country to complete a six-week paid investment internship at one of almost 100 different financial firms. Western Asset is excited to host one of GWI’s scholars for a paid internship in Pasadena this summer, and this month, two of Western Asset’s senior credit analysts are participating on GWI’s fixed-income panels.

Last week at the University of Pennsylvania I joined a GWI fixed-income panel that complements GWI’s classroom curriculum by bridging education with practice. The panel included three other senior fixed-income executives from Goldman Sachs, PIMCO and Oak Hill, who are also partner firms committed to the GWI program. As a senior high-yield research analyst who has been at Western Asset for more than 22 years, I shared my unique insights on fundamental credit research, including analyzing high-yield credits and sectors through market cycles. I also offered my perspective on work-life balance. The session also included a robust discussion about current market trends, careers in the credit markets, potential career paths in fixed-income and what makes our work meaningful.

Next week, Cel Sibley, who has been at Western Asset for more than 27 years, will participate on GWI’s fixed-income panel at Notre Dame, where she will address more than 60 GWI participants. Looking ahead, Western Asset is committed to helping the GWI scholars establish a solid foundation, learn investment basics and explore career paths. It is our honor to help support GWI’s goal to increase the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership positions in the asset management industry.