“When you make a commitment to focus on developing an area of domain expertise and own it, you’ll earn the credibility you desire,” says FIS’ Jennifer Hanes, offering words of advice for career novices.
“Define success for yourself; no one can give you the road map, so decide the most important criteria for success as it pertains to you, and then focus there.”
Several Industries Contribute to Career Growth
Hanes herself knows the importance of carving out a path that’s unique but beneficial for each individual. She earned undergraduate degrees in journalism and French in hopes of pursuing a career in international advertising, but at the time she graduated there were no professional jobs readily available. Having spent summers in the financial services industry, she took a position in investment banking as a research analyst. She earned her Series 7 and other designations to come up to speed quickly.
While she gained valuable experience, she decided that wasn’t the career for her, so she moved to a small firm in the municipal bond industry as the fourth employee, learning on the job and completing a master’s in business administration at night. She worked there for several years until it was acquired by Thomson Financial, which offered her more opportunity in a wide variety of roles including product management, business operations and marketing, as well as more international experience.
In 1999 she got the “dot com” bug and was lured by the possibility of something entirely different to join a company that specialized in antiques. While it was short-lived, she acquired a helpful perspective on the internet industry, but decided to move back to a bigger firm in the financial services field where she could return to a more international role. She joined SunGard, which became FIS, and has steadily grown with the firm, occupying roles from marketing to business operations and strategy. Currently she runs FIS’ global software and services portfolio business of fund and investor accounting, transfer agency, risk management, reconciliation, pricing and financial reporting solutions.
While she is proud of her many business-related outcomes in delivering top and bottom-line results, she finds her most satisfying professional achievement to be the impact she has had on developing her team members over the years and helping them flourish in their careers.
Right now, Hanes says she is inspired by the chance to see the strategy that her team has developed come to fruition as they execute on a more holistic and integrated business model that clients have been looking for. “It’s exciting to see something all the way through from strategy to execution and the positive effect we are having on clients as we use innovative technology to help them drive better business performance.”
She also is excited to see how artificial intelligence and its predictive analysis capability is being used to create ever more clever ways to take huge volumes of data and crunch it down to find patterns to drive investment returns. And, while less buzzy, she says that another exciting development to watch is how firms can create efficiency by leveraging automation and robotics in back office procedures to drive bottom-line profitability, achieving better results while saving time and effort.
Career Advice To Reach The Top
Looking back over her career, Hanes suggests that those starting out consider the value of networking and how helpful it can be. “As I got older and more confident in my abilities networking became easier, but it’s wise to start early.” She has found value in seeking out diverse perspectives from a variety of industries to solve problems and explore areas like people and project management that are not industry-specific.
Hanes believes that professionals at all levels should make deliberate time for mindful reflection. “We live in an era when everything is instant, and tons of information is coming at you constantly, but you need time to think and process, particularly when it comes to complex issues.” She advises women to find time to efficiently digest and reflect – such as while you’re exercising or commuting – to arrive at better answers.
Cognizant of the need to devote time to balance her career with other pursuits, Hanes has helmed a book club for 22 years and enjoys spending time cooking. Married with two grown sons in their 20s, she has been fortunate to have been able to take them on many of her travels, which has contributed to their increased awareness of diversity in the world.
Hanes also takes time to give back, sitting on the board of her alma mater, the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also is on the board of the industry association NICSA, whose member firms include major asset managers, servicers and large banking institutions. They are at the beginning stages of looking at partnerships for a diversity initiative, underscoring how a deliberate focus on diversity should ultimately drive better business outcomes.