On moving to the US from Kenya, getting into banking, diversity awareness and helping others.
by Edgar, Wealth Management, New England
12 Apr 2019
More about Edgar
I was born in Kenya. My family and I actually lived in a small mud hut until I was about nine years old, which was the time my four siblings and I came to the United States. We moved to Jersey City and lived with my father in his one bedroom apartment. After graduating high School, I attended New Jersey City University where I majored in Business and Finance.
UBS was my first, and only employer. I started here as a contractor while still in college, which was a great opportunity to see different sides of the firm while I was still studying, and then I was hired after graduating nine years ago.
I chose to work in the financial sector because I wanted to build a legacy for my family and for my future.
Even though we didn’t have much, we were always grateful. Nothing is going to be given to you, you have to put in the work to reach your ambitions… that’s how my family and I approached life. It’s truly been a great American dream.
Your job in a nutshell?
I work with great men and women, and I help them solve problems.
As the Assistant Market Head for the Central New England Market, I partner with the Market Head and Branch Managers to drive business development and growth. We support the day-to-day management of about 190 Financial Advisors and their teams.
What are three best things about working at UBS?
The unknown: not knowing what’s going to happen or come across my desk each day. I am a process oriented person, so I always have a way of solving problems. The unpredictability adds excitement to my job.
The people. Everyone is always willing to help. I like helping people, and when others can return the favor in a genuine way, that makes me love working here even more.
The culture. Management is easy to approach, genuine and authentic – regardless of their rank. This is not always the case in other companies, so it’s a huge plus for me.
Not just day-to-day business.
MOSAIC is one of the employee networks at UBS that focuses on cultural diversity and awareness, and I’ve been a member for about 7 years. I chair the employee engagement committee and we try to identify educational and awareness events on topics such as diversity in the workplace and expanding the concept of diversity.
Diversity is not just limited to, for example, ethnicity. It’s really broad. It includes opinion, thought, perspective, background and other things. If you think about it, these are the differences that make our society stronger. So naturally, we try to include all employees from all different backgrounds to take part in our events.
I first joined MOSAIC so I could meet people from different parts of the firm. It’s great to meet people I normally don’t interact with in my day-to-day role. And it truly helped me foster collaboration across departments. So now I try to get others engaged as well.
Still, the reality is that minorities are often underrepresented in this industry – especially in senior level positions. So, I remind myself to not see that as a challenge, but rather an opportunity. I'm very optimistic and happy to see that our company is putting inclusion and diversity front-and-center, now more than ever before.
As I said, I really like helping, I've been very fortunate to know some really phenomenal people. All of these people constantly helped me to raise my standards, reminded me of my purpose and challenged me to be the best at everything I do.
So now in my free time I mentor teenagers – also through UBS initiatives – who come from a challenging background. I want to tell them my story, and let them know that going to college and working in the financial sector can create great opportunities.
Whether you're twenty or seventy, you only have the life ahead of you. There is nothing you can do to change the past, but you can certainly change your future. Learn to be the master of your choices. You are the only one who can define what success means to you.