In honor of the official American Business Women's Day on September 22nd, and the invaluable contributions female executives have made to global business, BlueSteps have launched an 'Executive Women in Business' Initiative for the month of September. We will be featuring content focused on the personal experiences of top female executives and the lessons learned along the way.

Take a look below at the fourth of five BlueSteps members who won a competition to submit their stories of progression as women in business:

Life Is An Evolution
By Joann Farrell Quinn

My motto is 'life is an evolution', and my evolution has led me down an interesting path. When I graduated from college, I had no idea of what I wanted to do for a career, or really what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. So, on my mother’s advice, I attended a career fair and I ended up becoming an equity trader.

While I loved the fast pace of trading, I felt that I just wasn’t well suited in my eventual role as an institutional sales trader. Then, September 11th altered our world. A month or so later, it was no surprise in my office when we found out that layoffs were forthcoming following the impact to the economy.

After some soul searching, I took this as an opportunity to change my role and my location, and I end up at a small investment management firm in Tampa. Soon I was managing people as the vice president of trading and operations, and I began to wonder if what I was doing as a manager were the ‘right’ things. So, I completed an MBA, and just as I received my degree, our firm was acquired and disbanded. Little did I know at the time, as I closed out the books and records of the firm, I was also saying goodbye to my career as a trader.

Finding myself without a job- once again- and with a newly issued degree under my belt, I decided to follow my passion and launch a new career in consulting. I had no idea that this decision would take me to the other side of the world.

A month or so later, I found myself accepting a contract with a firm in Kazakhstan. I had not had any intention of taking any long-term remote projects on-- especially that soon. Yet, given the opportunity of the experience that was ahead, I eagerly boarded a plane to Almaty, which would become my home for the next few months.

This was a new, and life-changing experience. Living in Kazakhstan and spending time with the locals, and with other expats from around the world, provided me with a new perspective. The lessons I learned and insights I gained continue to shape me, and my decisions, to this day.

As I now work toward my PhD, it is the totality of these experiences that have brought me to this point. I now have a greater level of understanding of people and how they interact. As a consultant and executive coach, I am more empathetic to the needs of my clients because of my experiences. I use the knowledge I have gained from working with all types of people in all areas of the world as I help people solve problems within their firms and work on reaching their potential.

And, as I said, life is an evolution, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Joann Farrell Quinn

CEO, JFQ Consulting

Joann Farrell Quinn is an organizational consultant and executive coach specializing in leadership and organizational development as the owner of JFQ Consulting. Before launching JFQ Consulting, Ms. Quinn spent over ten years in equity capital markets, holding various roles in trading, portfolio management and senior management.

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