Marcia Wakeman, Banking Partner at the consulting firm Capco, believes strongly in the power of mentoring. After spending almost two decades in the industry, she has experienced first hand how finding the right mentor can make a difference in someone’s career. Now, she encourages seasoned women to remember to give back.
“My advice is really taking interest in mentoring, especially the junior women. Reach out and share your experiences. We tend to forget that all the things we have learned would be of value to them,” she explained.
Career in Financial Services
Wakeman got her first taste of the financial services working as a bank teller when she was in high school – and kept progressing from there. When she wanted to move to a different region of the country, she took a job at a software provider and worked for the first online-only bank.
She went on to help open up the Atlanta office of PegaSystems and then in the late ’90s, a former colleague who had moved to KPMG asked if she would be interested in a position there too. “I had no interest in an audit firm, but the role was at the firm’s new consumer technology banking practice. And that was the start of my consulting career,” Wakeman explained. She spent the next ten years working for KPMG Consulting / BearingPoint for various financial services clients including web startups, as well as eTrade and eBay.
“I had great clients and I never did the same thing twice – I found my sweet spot,” she said. “I can’t imagine doing anything different. I like the freedom of consulting. You get to help define needs and then bring the solutions that are required.”
Soon an opportunity to move to PwC came up at the same time she learned of an opportunity at Capco. “I weighted the pros and cons and what won me over at Capco was the ability to be entrepreneurial and build my own practice.”
Today Wakeman leads the firm’s retail banking practice, having made partner earlier this year. “Making partner was definitely the biggest highlight of my career so far. I never set out to make partner, just to advance. I wanted to prove individually that I could build and lead a practice with all of the components that make that up. I’ve had great clients and a great team.”
“What I’m doing now is a little bit of everything, which I enjoy,” she continued. “Building new client relationships, expanding existing ones, building the team, and working on recruiting, marketing, and speaking. There’s a great variety.”
She explained that working on all of those things enables her to do what she loves: consult. “I’m continuing to develop points of view, figuring out what clients need as their consulting partner and trusted advisor.”
Women in Banking
Wakeman says she doesn’t focus on gender in the workplace. “For any gender, an individual has potential challenges. Certainly I am considered a minority and sometimes I’m the only female in the boardroom or with male clients. But I don’t think that’s a big issue. Regardless of gender, people are struggling with work life balance and meeting expectations at home.”
She continued, “I’ve focused on finding my own individual voice and using my strengths to define who I am and, really, because I’m good at something.”
One of the things Wakeman says she wishes she had learned earlier is the importance of networking and finding mentors. “Those go hand in hand,” she explained. “When you’re first starting out, you don’t think it’s that important. I’m still learning that today.”
She encouraged women beginning their careers to keep an open mind when considering their possibilities. “In the beginning, it’s about being open to many different experiences. Be a sponge and then hone in on something you enjoy and are good at.”
She continued, “As you begin to define what you are interested in, find mentors. Get some people with skin in the game to help you in your career. It’s amazing how many people are willing to do that. And at the end of the day, be proactive about what you want. Those people who are successful are the ones who really want it and make it happen.”
As the leader of Capco’s women’s leadership group for North America, Wakeman works to engage women throughout the company. “We try not to make it overly cumbersome, but we do pick a few events per year in addition to the mentoring program we’re about to roll out. We really want to figure out what we can do better as an organization.”
“We’re trying to figure out, when it comes to work life balance, can we do more online work? Could there be less travel? Is there an opportunity to be more virtual? We’re helping to really shape that.”
She added, “Certainly at Capco, our key driver is meritocracy, but we want to make sure young women have the opportunity and potential to advance. We want to make sure this is a female friendly place.”
In Her Personal Time
Wakeman lives with her husband in Atlanta, and outside work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends. “My favorite place is the ocean,” she said. “I love the sun and the sand and the water.”
She also enjoys cooking, puzzles, and reading.