Adena Smith, Financial Consultant and Sales Manager, Salomon Smith Barney, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Salomon Smith Barneys Adena Smith didnt think twice about becoming a broker 1212 years ago. The native Texan came from a family where the ratio of female to male brokers was already 50-50. Her sister and father blazed the trail ahead of her.
But the odds werent so equitable when she arrived for broker training in New York and discovered--with some chagrin--that she was one of only four women in a training class of 150. It never occurred to me that not many women went into this field, Smith says.
Undaunted, she delved into the job, devoting her life to it and spending seemingly every waking minute on the phone, either cold calling clients or asking her father and sister for advice.
Since she was single, she could afford the grueling hours. But after moving from New York to Beverly Hills, Calif., and getting married, things changed dramatically when she took the first of two maternity leaves five years ago, and subsequently had to change the structure of her day.
To maintain service to her clients and facilitate motherhood, she worked from home for three months after the birth of her children. The blessing of it was my clients were extremely understanding and supportive, Smith says. I realized that if people didnt get this, maybe they shouldnt be my clients.
Nowadays, Smith, a sales manager, mom and producing rep, performs a self-described juggling act. She arrives at the office by 6:30 a.m., picks up her son from kindergarten two days a week, works late Monday and Tuesday, and leaves early Friday afternoon to exercise and revamp for the job, her husband and their 1-year-old.
The biggest struggle in this business, whether you have a family or not, is finding the balance. Its a struggle for everyone, Smith says.
She actively teaches what she has learned about organization, time management and focus, not only to reps in her office, but as an official mentor assigned to La Jolla, Calif.-based rookie Rebecca Birns. They regularly communicate via telephone or e-mail.
Smith hopes that like her fathers and sisters words of wisdom to her, her experiences will guide Birns through the maze of pressures, priorities and problems associated with being a registered rep.
This is a really, really hard business to get started in, Smith says. The most valuable service a mentor can provide is sharing personal experiences. ... What I like about [mentoring] is that it takes me back a step andd reminds me what is so great about this career.