Women of Distinction 2019 Spotlight: Lauren Simmons
Get to Know the 2019 NCCWSL Women of Distinction
Name: Lauren Simmons
Occupation: Equity trader, New York Stock Exchange
Education: Bachelor of Science, Kennesaw State University, Class of 2016
Lauren Simmons knows what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated field. The 24 year old equity trader at the New York Stock Exchange is the youngest and only full-time female broker–and the second African American woman ever to work the floor.
Five years ago, her future was on a very different trajectory. As a genetics major and statistics minor at Kennesaw State University, in Georgia, Simmons has planned to pursue a career in genetic counseling. But after graduation, she realized the medical field was not her true passion and instead decide to focus on her fondness for numbers and statistics. “Numbers are a universal language,” she told CNBC.
Simmons began applying for jobs in finance and, through her network in New York City, connected with Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Rosenblatt was impressed by Simmons’ resume, but it was ultimately her confidence that convinced him she’d be great on the trading floor. “ As a trader, you make decisions within microseconds,” Simmons said, adding that being able to do so takes a high level of confidence.
Simmons joined Rosenblatt Securities in March of 2017 but her employment was contingent upon passing the Series 19 – a test of financial principles and concepts, that only 20 % of test takers pass. Because she had little prior knowledge of the material, Simmons hit the books hard. “I needed to pass to prove to myself that I could do this,” she said. Her determination paid off and after acing the test, Simmons made history by joining the NYSE.
While the financial industry is taking steps toward becoming more inclusive, Wall Street still looks largely the same it did 50 years ago. But Simmons is optimistic that stories like hers will inspire young girls to pursue a career in finance. Her advice to anyone trying to prepare for a career on Wall Street, especially women, is to not limit themselves.
“Go after what you want, even if it makes you uncomfortable,” she says. “Apply for the job — you have no idea what lies behind the door. And if you don’t get the job, it’s OK. Apply for the next job and move forward. It’s important to just keep going.”