How does it feel like to be the only woman in the room every single day, to be surrounded by numbers and men in a fast moving environment? Would you fail or prevail?
Lauren Simmons is the youngest female full-time stockbroker at the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the first woman of colour in this job. She succeeded in this male-dominated environment and continues to follow her path even under challenging conditions.
The New York Stock Exchange is one of the remaining trading floors that still employ human brokers. Since its establishment in 1792, men always dominated the trading floor. Only during the Second World War, women had to replace them. However right after that, men took over the trading floor again and it has taken more than 50 years to recruit the first female full-time stockbroker.
But how did a girl originally from Georgia with a genetics degree end up working at the New York Stock Exchange? Her incredible and unique story is what makes Lauren Simmons so inspiring for millions of girls and women.
Lauren Simmons studied Genetics at the Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Although she first wanted to pursue a profession in genetics counselling, she quickly realized that it was not her passion. Actually, she always had an affinity for numbers because she had a minor in statistics. For her, numbers are like a universal language. Therefore, she started her career in this competitive financial industry.
Following her dream, she realized that New York was the right place to be. Consequently, she moved in with her grandmother, who lived there.
She had nothing but her impregnable dream of succeeding in finance – starting at zero with no connections at all. Hundreds of applications, rejections and tears followed. However, Lauren Simmons has a “won’t-take-no-for-an-answer” attitude, which comes from her twin brother, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Thanks to this attitude, she came across Gordon Charlop, who brought her onto the stock floor and hired her within minutes.
What are her experiences in a male-dominated environment?
Starting as the first woman on the NYSE floor, Lauren Simmons was resolved to prove her intelligence and aptitude for this job. Of course she also had to do the Series 19 equity traders exam, which is a requirement for all floor brokers to earn their badge. It is commonly known that only 2 out of 10 people pass the test. To the astonishment of her colleagues, she passed this exam on the first try and signed her name into the history books.
Actually, Lauren Simmons does not think about her age or gender – she just wants to do amazing things within finance. In fact, she does not feel like an outsider. She rather describes her working environment as a very big community, where everyone wants to see each other doing well and support wherever they can.
Moreover, she does not really recognize disadvantages in this male-dominated working environment. She rather sees her position as an advantage because as the only woman in the room men listen carefully to what she has to say. Nevertheless, her beloved trading jacket came in men-size – which made her feel like wearing her dad’s coat.
Lauren Simmons wishes that more females apply for a full time position on the floor. Changes in that direction are already visible. With Stacey Cunningham, the New York Stock Exchange has its first female president.
Lauren Simmons is an inspiration for all women
For Lauren Simmons, it is of high priority to reach young women all over the world and inspire them with her unique story. She wants to encourage and help other women to follow their dreams – even when the economic world is still dominated by men.
She herself faced many obstacles on her way to success. The time of application and preparation for the Series 19 equity trader exam was full of self-doubt – she even worried about being qualified or not because of her totally different field of study. At the end, she did not allow fear and tears to stop her from reaching her goals.
This woman embodies that dreams can come true if you just work hard enough for it. However, her journey is not over yet. It just started. After working at least two years as a trader, she perceives herself becoming the CEO or Vice President of a successful company in the future.
On her LinkedIn profile she says: ”You see a lot of women building their empires, going for their dreams, and just speaking up about issues that need to be talked about. This is such a significant factor that young women are seeing how successful they can be when they are confident with themselves and just go for it. You have one life to live, why not do something you love?”
This quote shows how a young millennial perceives today’s business world, which makes her a role model not only for this generation, but also for others. If you are interested in meeting Lauren and hearing her story – book your seat at the Global Female Leader Summit 2019. Lauren Simmons will talk about the power of being the only woman in the room.