I currently work at Credit Suisse Madrid as Vice President Real Estate. Prior to that, I worked for four years as a Real Estate Private Equity Manager at Macquarie, an Australian investment bank and financial services company. For two of those years I was on the principal renewable energy team, MacCap Green Investment Group. Before this, I spent three years working in foreign direct investment in the United States. Two of these years were spent working under the 48th Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.
Salena Lee chose to begin her journey in finance with IE Business School’s Master in Finance as she was seeking a career change from politics to finance, and needed a highly quantitative program that allowed her to continue working. In order to achieve her career goals, she was ready for a rigorous academic challenge, and this was what she received from the finance program.
Salena knew immediately that she wanted to concentrate on two specific areas of Finance: Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity. This allowed her to utilize her mental energy efficiently and focus on the classes that best fit her career plans. In her words, the financial services industry is a place where working smart is as important—if not more so—than working hard, and this is a skillset that is often overlooked and underdeveloped by university students.
Networking is an important talent that everyone can and should develop, according to Salena. Although universities can introduce the concept, it is up to individuals to make connections, turn themselves into a valuable asset, and learn how to plug into the most successful groups.
“The financial services industry is a place where working smart is as important—if not more so—than working hard.”
The advice that Salena offers to prospective students is to be prepared to work hard, but in the knowledge that it will ultimately be worth the energy and temporary personal sacrifice. It is important to keep in mind that studying and degrees are a means to an end, and must be balanced with networking, developing industry knowledge and learning from the connections you make to find the best career path for you.
Addressing herself specifically to women who are thinking of entering the world of finance, Salena would like to say that whenever you start to feel afraid, that’s a good sign for you to lean in even further. Countless statistics show that women eliminate themselves from difficult processes before the competition even begins, and this must change. The faster you can get comfortable with rejection, the more likely you are to reach for the stars and actually pursue opportunities that fulfill your needs and desires.