Donna. Early Life Experiences and Relationships

posted January 28th, 2010 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Donna to tell me about the experiences in her early life which she believes had the greatest impact on her work life and career. She said there were two things which were the biggest influences. The first influence was that she was the oldest of six kids, so she was used to running stuff a little bit. And the second big influence was her father who is the person who originally encouraged her to go into finance.


I asked Donna to tell me about her career in terms of the milestones, obstacles, difficulties or roadblocks that stand out when she looks back and what she had learned from all of these experiences and where she turned for support when she faced them.  She said: “I started out my career in law.  I went to law school, did my articles and practised law for two years. Very soon, I realized that I didn’t really like it and after two years I decided to go back to school and do my MBA.  That was a big challenge because at that time it was unusual to leave one career and go into something different.  So I did an MBA for two years, then went into investment banking for five years and then equity capital markets for eight years. It was great being in investment banking initially but going into equity capital markets made it much easier to manage my time.  I started early in the morning but rarely worked evenings and never on weekends.  In terms of obstacles, I did have four children during that period of time so one of the challenges was managing both the firm’s expectations and the demands of family. When I went on maternity leave each time I felt I needed to convince the firm that I would return but  also needed to organize things at home to make it work  So there weren’t roadblocks but there were challenges.”


I asked Donna to tell me about the relationships in her life which she believes had the greatest impact on her and in particular her work life and career.  She said: “Certainly my relationship with my father; he’s a small businessman.  He always encouraged me to do something on the finance or legal side of things.  My mother was a stay-at-home mother and very traditional but my father always encouraged me to do something in business. Obviously, my relationship with my husband has had a huge impact on my work life and career, without him, I couldn’t have managed.  If he wasn’t who he is we couldn’t have coped with four kids, two careers and all that that entails. I’ve had a couple of mentors along the way who helped me out or gave me advice that was very useful as I went along.”


I asked Donna what her Dad thought when she left law to pursue an MBA. She says he thought she was crazy to be giving it all up. “Totally.  He was completely against it initially but he was supportive once I did it.  He thought I was giving up a really good career for an uncertain future.”


What Strikes Me?


The impact of a father on his daughter and the career choices she makes


The critical need for the support of a husband, in terms of having children and raising a family while at the same time having a career and being successful


The requirement for courage to make changes when they are required, even when there are few who have done so before you


What Strikes You?


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