A passion for finance led Robyn Brown, ’19, to La Salle University’s School of Business. That interest first blossomed while the Philadelphia native worked at a TD Bank branch during her high school years.
“I would often come across customers — sometimes in their 40s, 50s and 60s — who were never taught how to properly manage their finances,” Brown said. “Some people were not financially literate at all. I had a discussion with a person who wanted to buy a house but had no credit history. That’s when I realized that more people in my community could benefit from the proper guidance. The desire to aide communal and individual financial growth is initially what made me want to go into financial advising.”
Brown entered the School of Business with designs on becoming a financial adviser. Her plan changed after she landed a coveted co-op internship as a junior investment banking analyst with Barclays at the multinational bank’s Manhattan headquarters prior to her senior year.
It was a La Salle connection, Dino Dedic, ’06, currently a managing director at Barclays, that enabled Brown to get her foot in the door at Barclays. Brown took it from there, absorbing all that she could about equity-linked hybrid solutions and mortgage-backed securities during her internship, which led to an offer for the job she currently holds as an investment banking analyst with Barclays.
“I never want to be bored and, every day with Barclays, I’m always learning something and challenging myself,” said Brown. “You’re using pretty much every single skill you have, from your soft skills, to communicating with people, to presenting to sales, to your technical capabilities — building models pricing bonds and other instruments. I was used to being near the top of my class in school, but here, you’re working with the best of the best. It’s a place where I can grow.”
Brown credits faculty and staff at La Salle’s School of Business for helping her believe she had a legitimate shot at succeeding in the world of finance. She singled out guidance she received from Penelope Grob, director of the University’s Business Scholars Co-op Program.
“As an African-American woman, I didn’t see a lot of people in this industry who looked like me. I experienced what I would call ‘imposter’s syndrome,'” Brown said. “It’s hard to advocate for yourself in that type of environment but I persevered because I always believed I was destined to do something great. It was Penny who helped me affirm that, ‘Yes, I am qualified and have earned the right to be here.’”
For her part, Grob said Brown is exactly where she belongs.
“When Robyn expressed to me that she did not feel that she matched up with other potential internship candidates at Barclays, I helped her understand that by being selected for the interview, she was not the imposter that she thought she was,” said Grob. “With hard work, determination, and drive, she has proven that she deserves to be at Barclays. Robyn now mentors and coaches other current Business Scholar Co-op students to believe in themselves and be proud members of the La Salle and School of Business communities.”
Just as Dedic and Grob did for her, Brown is using her position at Barclays to lift others up by serving on the board of Barclays’ Black Professionals Forum, an organization that strives to create more opportunities within the company for professionals of color. Among the group’s recent initiatives is the creation of a detailed resume Brown describes as a personal pitch book for Black employees to keep their managers aware of their accomplishments and professional development throughout the year, potentially providing opportunity for advancement.
“We’re trying to find the best ways to dismantle systemic limitations that have kept Black employees foreign to C-suite positions,” Brown said. “I’ve seen a lot happen in the past few months and I’m hoping that the momentum on these types of initiatives continues.”