By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)
Anika Khan, Vice President and Economist at Wells Fargo, said one key to advancing your career is cultivating a broad knowledge base – but also developing an expertise in a field you are passionate about.
She explained, “If I was to think of one thing I wish I knew when I was starting out it would be to be an expert in something, but know a little bit about everything.”
“When you begin your career, you’re trying to get a sense of everything. But when I became a subject matter expert my career really gained upward momentum.”
Career in Economics
Khan began her career at legacy First Union and then moved to legacy Wachovia in the late ’90s. “I spent a good part of my career on the deal side,” she said. “I wanted to learn about sales and trading, so I moved to the trading floor.”
Then, she said, “I went back to my love: economics. I’ve been an economist for five years. I made a series of lateral moves, which ended up being wonderful opportunities for me.”
Khan said one of the proudest achievements of her career so far has been being invited to the White House as part of a special delegation on the economy. “I was the only economist to update the President’s economic advisors and staff. It was also a great opportunity for Wells Fargo,” she explained.
She continued, “And I’m even more proud of a paper on state economic activity which we presented at the 2012 American Economics Association Annual Meeting. They have a very high threshold and we got accepted. It’s always a goal for economists.”
Advice for Professional Women
Khan said she’d like to see more women at the top. “Getting women into the C-suite in general is a challenge – we need to have more of a presence there. And specifically for African American women, there just aren’t enough of us.”
She continued, “The next generation of women coming out of school is outpacing males in undergrad and grad school. Many are not choosing banking as a career. One reason is that they are looking for what they perceive as work life balance. This can be a challenge for any individual.”
“I mentor a number of young women who are just as smart as males, but sometimes they don’t actually know it. The advice I always give is to know your worth,” she continued.
When it comes to senior women, she said, “It’s very important at that level to be a sponsor, mentor, advocate, for some of the young women trying to navigate or enter the industry.”
Diversity at Wells Fargo
As a member of Wells Fargo’s Diversity and Engagement Council in her area of the bank, Khan believes that individuals should see diversity as an advantage. “Diversity can be an asset – in many cases, I’ve definitely felt that instead of holding me back, it’s propelled me forward.”
She continued, “At Wells Fargo, diversity is part of our key goals. It’s not only something I value, but the bank values. “
“One of the things we continue to do in this organization is to have a number of diversity initiatives. Through diversity initiatives you get exposure to senior management on a pretty consistent basis though diversity networks and events,” she said.
“You have the mechanisms to get in front of senior managers and for them to see how capable you are outside your area of expertise.”
In Her Personal Time
Khan, who is married and has a nine-year-old son, says she believes in spending quality time with her family when she’s outside work. “I take time so my son knows he’s number one,” she explained.
She also enjoys photography and, she added, “I don’t go a week without doing zumba!”