My parents because they raised two daughters, who are self-sufficient, and boy did they get more than they could handle! I set my sights on being on my own and financially independent as early as junior high. It wasn’t necessarily a goal of being wealthy but of standing on my own two feet, doing what I love, and being confident and happy in life. I was also clear on wanting to have my own style in life, which is, in big part, thanks to the influence of my two grandmothers.
My New York-based grandmother, Regina Hulbert Kenney, was a society woman raised in NYC, a mother of four, both incredibly graceful and generous. I spent a lot of time with her, watching her be such a wonderful hostess, a good friend to all, worldly and generous. I often dreamed in her home of being from a far-away land and I remember realizing that every single room in her home had a story, pieces from travel, paintings or jewelry from far-away places. She gave me the passion for travel, socializing and the value of family.
My other grandmother, Lillian Grace Bittman, was a pioneer in the telephone company and seemed to take care of everyone in the family at all stages of life. She was able to get the telephone company to keep her on even after she got married (which back in the day was not the norm). Married women were not expected to continue in their jobs and were often forbidden. She just juggled it all and was wide eyed in taking life in with great stories. The things she heard over those phone lines…
I’m always grateful for the life lessons I have learned from both of these women and how I often find myself thinking what would they do in this circumstance? So, when I was asked to move to Asia, the voices of these women said, “This is the journey you were meant to take. You’re bigger than what you have experienced thus far. Go for it.”
Career wise, my path has been one that only someone who is open to learning could take. It wasn’t a straight path to my career. Instead, it was opening my heart and mind to take in everything around me and learn what I was meant to do. I think the moment I moved abroad to Asia my life changed dramatically and I blossomed into the person I was supposed to be. I thank Fred Hill at JPMorgan Chase for believing in me, trusting me to give him the lay of the land from afar, and knowing I was the right person for the job. That move made a big difference in my life professionally and personally.
Nothing is the same once you have taken in what it’s like to live in 18 other countries, how business is done in those countries, how a success or a crisis is managed in different cultures. I’m a better, stronger, more worldy woman from that experience. I no longer need to dream at my grandmother’s home about what life is like in remote lands. I’ve been there. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.