Acknowledge and address gender-bias. While more attention is being paid by companies to their diversity, gender-bias remains prevalent. It’s subtle and often unintentional, such as male and female managers being perceived differently when behaving the same way. Establish better on-ramps for women who have taken time off to be caregivers. Mentor. I feel great responsibility to support women as they navigate their careers. I’ve often found my own contemporaries to be quite ruthless in their treatment of other women- likely qualities that were required to succeed in tough environments. It’s inspired me to do the opposite.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aimee Young, Quicken’s Chief Marketing Officer leading marketing, sales, and supply chain operations. Prior to joining Quicken she was Chief Marketing Officer of SoFi, the modern consumer finance company named a “Millennial Brand to Watch” by Forbes, which grew 16x during her tenure. She has held marketing and e-commerce leadership roles at companies ranging from Virgin to food app ShopWell. She holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a BA in Psychology and Economics from Wellesley College.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Aimee! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?
Truth be told, I never anticipated working in finance. I’ve always gravitated towards understanding people, and finance seemed a bit dry. After many years building consumer brands, when SoFi approached me about the CMO role in 2014, I realized I had it all wrong.
I love building products and brands that make a big difference in people’s lives and SoFi gave me the opportunity to do just that. I was so impressed by the potential to improve the lives and trajectories of young professionals, I dove in. Now I have a real appreciation for how transformative personal finance is. It’s changed my perspective on the whole field.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far?
As a marketer, you spend a lot of time thinking creatively about ways to connect with consumers. At Virgin Atlantic, I once worked on a campaign where we ran radio ads featuring rock stars having conversations with business executives. One of the rockers went off script with some colorful British slang. When it came time to present our campaign to the US executive team, I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was trying to explain the meaning of the slang to my boss. Lucky for me, he was willing to take a risk and the campaign was successful!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
After 30 years of helping people manage their full financial picture, Quicken spun off from Intuit in 2016 to become an independent company. We’re lucky to have a tremendously loyal base of customers, many who have used the product for over a decade and achieved great financial success.
While many key life events remain the same, Gen X and Gen Y have different expectations from our long-time customers about what is intuitive. In collaboration with my team, I’m working to understand their needs and aspirations so we can help an even larger audience take control of their financial lives. It’s also incredibly rewarding to work alongside the women driving our new product development- something that can be rare in tech companies.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
For me, it’s definitely the culture of Quicken. We have a very high integrity, value-centric culture. Quicken is a company that strikes a balance between getting the right things done and caring about how they get done, with an eye on making sure employees feel valued. The focus has paid off: Quicken ranks in the highest percentage of employee engagement, and we were voted one of 2019’s top 10 places to work in fintech.
It’s also a fun place to work. We have a lot of events that bring us together like our monthly paper airplane competitions, theme parties, and even a very competitive chili cook-off. This year the team awarded me with “Most Unique” chili. They assured me “unique” wasn’t polite code for “tastes bad.”
Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
My finance experience has been in fintech, so I can’t speak to the current levels of diversity on Wall Street or in traditional banking. I think the shift to talking about these issues and working toward change is thanks to brave, forward-thinking people and companies that have made a concerted effort to have difficult conversations and ultimately be more inclusive and diverse.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?
- Acknowledge and address gender-bias. While more attention is being paid by companies to their diversity, gender-bias remains prevalent. It’s subtle and often unintentional, such as male and female managers being perceived differently when behaving the same way.
- Establish better on-ramps for women who have taken time off to be caregivers.
- Mentor. I feel great responsibility to support women as they navigate their careers. I’ve often found my own contemporaries to be quite ruthless in their treatment of other women- likely qualities that were required to succeed in tough environments. It’s inspired me to do the opposite.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non-intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.
Quicken recently conducted a survey on raising financially independent children . When asked what financial lessons they wish their parents taught them when they were kids, 31% mentioned investing. Studies have also indicated that women are less confident in investing than men. It’s an area that’s taken me a long time to grow confident in as well.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The list is long and should roll like movie credits! I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked for Virgin Atlantic, where Richard Branson served as a very active Chairman. Richard’s passion for building mission-driven companies, deeply valuing employees, and challenging the status quo has been an inspiration throughout my career.
Thank you for joining us!