Community//

Women Leading The Finance Industry: “Ask for the job; I never would be in my position if I hadn’t told my managers that I wanted more” With Emily Roland of John Hancock Investment Management

Madeline Albright said “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”, and politics aside, I do agree with that statement. Whether you are formally mentoring another woman, only know someone on a peer level at a competitor firm or have female team members, it is important to give them […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Madeline Albright said “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”, and politics aside, I do agree with that statement. Whether you are formally mentoring another woman, only know someone on a peer level at a competitor firm or have female team members, it is important to give them the same feedback and opportunities that you would give a male. I also think when you are building a professional network you need to consider how you want females represented in that and think long and hard if you don’t have a strong representation of both sexes. Finally, ask for the job. I never would be in my position if I hadn’t told my managers that I wanted more.


I had the pleasure to interview Emily Roland. Emily is the Co-Chief Investment Strategist at John Hancock Investment Management and leads the investment research function. She and her team are responsible for leveraging capital markets and industry research to help set the firm’s product and business strategy. Emily joined the company’s investments division in 2004 and has held a number of positions in product management, marketing, and competitive intelligence over the past decade. Prior to joining John Hancock Investment Management, she held roles at GMO and the Boston Stock Exchange. Emily earned an MBA from Boston College and a BBA in Marketing from James Madison University, and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

After graduating from college in Virginia, I worked at the Boston Stock Exchange on a small trading floor. It was fast paced, and I loved the energy of the industry. When that job ended, I attended Boston College for an MBA. It was in graduate school where I had a finance professor who I deeply respected and developed a rapport with, that helped to shape my future aspirations. He was on the board of Manulife / John Hancock, and he put me in touch with the product development person who ended up hiring me once I graduated. Eventually in this role, I found an opportunity to communicate with our sales team every week, highlighting market events and breaking down complicated topics into actionable ideas. This led me to where I am today.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Our company was undergoing a major restructuring in 2012 that would affect the jobs of many people in the organization. I was eight months pregnant with my second child at the time all of the big decisions were being made and org charts were being re-drawn. I remember waddling into my boss’ office and making it VERY clear that I wanted to benefit from the changes, telling him I was not afraid of a new challenge. He started laughing (I was not amused by much those days), and quickly reminded me he knew me — and my capabilities — well enough to know I was up for it. Sure enough, he called me when I was on maternity leave and offered me a new, expanded role. The lesson I learned? My work was good enough that my bosses were willing to wait. That feeling of confidence has helped power me forward. Oh, and working for great people, which I have been fortunate enough to do, is absolutely critical to your success, so seek them out!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’ve expanded the amount of time I am spending out on the road. I truly enjoy traveling to present to and meet financial advisors across the country to have a real-time dialogue about the economy and the markets. Sharing the work we do and having a Q&A on the evolving market dynamics has been an exciting way to bring our research to life.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

John Hancock’s legacy and heritage stands out as a company that has been operating for more than 100 years to help make people’s financial decisions easier and their lives better. I am proud that our customers have access to insurance, investment and retirement products that are personalized and reflect how they are living their lives today.

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?

From a young age, I knew I wanted to have a career in finance. One Halloween, when I was 9 or 10, I dressed up as a “businessman”. As a little girl, 30 years ago, it never occurred to me to dress up as a “businesswoman”. I didn’t see enough women in these roles. Fast forward to today and there are female market strategists, portfolio managers and CEOs. Clearly, we still don’t have enough, but they are now visible to younger women who can aspire and envision themselves achieving these professional roles. I never understood the importance of identity politics until I realized the impact this evolution will have — that my daughters might dress up like a “businesswoman” as they grow up. We have to continue to build this pipeline, and I appreciate those who have cleared the path before me.

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?

Madeline Albright said “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”, and politics aside, I do agree with that statement. Whether you are formally mentoring another woman, only know someone on a peer level at a competitor firm or have female team members, it is important to give them the same feedback and opportunities that you would give a male. I also think when you are building a professional network you need to consider how you want females represented in that and think long and hard if you don’t have a strong representation of both sexes. Finally, ask for the job. I never would be in my position if I hadn’t told my managers that I wanted more.

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.

Read, read, read! There is no substitute for knowledge. Read the financial press, read books on investing, read earnings releases, read research reports. I spend at least three hours a day reading, and I’m sure that is not enough.

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?

I had a boss at John Hancock for over 10 years to whom I am eternally grateful. He is an exceptional leader and a great person. He spent a lot of his time coaching me, providing feedback and giving me reach assignments. When I came up with an idea or business plan, he (almost) always said yes. As far as the reach assignments he gave me, my first reaction was always “no way, I’m not qualified to do that!” but he pushed me forward. Spending time coaching others can be a selfless and unappreciated effort, and there are very few people who are good at it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” — Wayne Gretsky. In my experience, you have to be vulnerable and take risks knowing you could fail. Without taking risks and doing things I thought I couldn’t do, I would not have achieved success.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Marianne Harrison: “You Need to Take Risks to be Successful”

by Phil La Duke
Community//

Allow your child some accountability and allow them to make mistakes”, with Jason Hartman & Leah Bennett

by Jason Hartman
Community//

“Be willing to think outside the box.” With Jason Hartman & Tammy M. Shields

by Jason Hartman

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.