Member Spotlight

February 2021 Member Spotlight

Shannon Mathis

Director, Workplace Solutions at Fidelity Investments

What change in terms of diversity do you hope to see in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years? I would love to see more people of color, especially women, take on leadership roles within their respective firms. Representation matters; it sparks motivation for the next generation to reach new heights. Also, I would like to see more attention focused on closing the wealth gap and increasing financial literacy to our youth through more outreach programs through organizations like WIPN.

What prompted you to join the DE&I committee? Last year, I moved into a new sales role, and Lisa Smith reached out to personally invite me to join WIPN. I went on the website, was very impressed with the content, and joined immediately. Shortly after signing up, I registered for the virtual networking and various webinars hosted by several chapters. During one of my virtual networking meetings, I was introduced to Rosalyn Brown. We connected and I was invited to join the DE&I committee. I am looking forward to seeing what impact the DE&I committee will have on WIPN and how the lessons learned will further benefit our respective firms within the retirement industry.

I love the retirement industry because …  it’s a multi-faceted industry, and there is so much you can do to find what brings you joy. I majored in psychology and theology and I found a way to utilize my interpersonal skills and apply them to my company’s various roles. Not everyone in the retirement industry has an advanced mathematics degree, but if you are willing to learn and grow ─ all things are possible.

My favorite quote is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi. This quote reminds me that I must take an active role if I want to see a change in the world, and I cannot just wait for someone else to come along and pave the way.  Don’t discredit the little things that you do daily. All those small wins will eventually add up to bigger wins.

Shannon Mathis

Kei Ferguson

Lead Manager of Client Administration,
T Rowe Price

What change in terms of diversity do you hope to see in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years?   In terms of diversity, I hope to see more representation of black and brown women in the retirement industry at all levels.  I would like to see a change in education, leadership, and mentoring programs within the industry where marketing for these career types attracts under represented minorities.

What prompted you to join the DE&I committee?  One of my colleagues at T. Rowe Price, Jean Martone, introduced me to WIPN. I was prompted to join the DE&I committee after meeting with her and Rosalyn Brown to discuss the mission and goals of WIPN. I saw the opportunity as empowering and intentional in seeking diversity. I find value in what WIPN has to offer women in the retirement industry, especially diverse women. Expanding this network to a diverse group of women is critical in building retirement knowledge in my community and beyond in terms of not just a career but in the importance of creating generational wealth.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry?  It is important for me to be a role model for─ upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry because success is achievable. In any professional career, there are challenges. Specifically, for women of color, more often than not, we are challenged by not seeing “ourselves” ─ those who look like us, in the retirement industry. There is absolutely a place for women in the retirement industry via sales, fund management, advisory, leadership, marketing, risk management just to name a few. I graduated from Morgan State University with a BA in psychology in 2001. I never intended to start a career in the retirement industry, but I have and I am so happy that I did. I want women in the upcoming generations to see that the retirement industry has so much to offer.

How do you see WIPN affecting positive change in your career or industry? Is WIPN a force for change? Yes, WIPN is a force for change. This network can affect positive change in the retirement industry and careers by creating platforms for women to have access to tools, education, mentorship, and networking opportunities. WIPN champions the expectation that we cross-pollinate knowledge and experience with one another as women.

Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult was it to find networking and/or mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? Prior to joining WiPN, it was difficult to find networking and mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry. The only mentorship opportunities I was able to take advantage of were within my firm, T. Rowe Price. One of my colleagues at T. Rowe Price, Jean Martone, introduced me to WIPN. WIPN exposed me to coast to coast mentorship opportunities with women within the industry at multiple levels and organizations. In addition to mentoring opportunities, the access to webinars and workshops has the potential to help me further build retirement acumen.

Kei Ferguson

Denise Fortune, AIF®

Vice President- Institutional Clients
Voya Financial

What change in terms of diversity do you hope to see in the retirement industry in the next 5 – 10 years?  In the next 5 -10 years I hope to see more minorities working in the retirement industry and excelling to leadership and executive level, C-suite positions.

What prompted you to join the DE&I committee? I want to see diversity and inclusion policies and practices become the norm and not just a recommendation or words on a paper. Positive shifts will require each of us to be open minded, have enlightening conversations and take action to do our part. I was motivated to work alongside other women in our industry who are just as passionate about wanting to see positive changes as I am.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Being a role model, mentor and encourager to the upcoming generation of women in the retirement industry is extremely important to me. Personally, it has been a priceless gift to have role models during different stages in my career who have helped to inspire, challenge and encourage me. I feel it is my responsibility to give back and invest the same type of energy and support that was given to me. The more times young women see it is possible to achieve a successful, fulfilling career in a male-dominated industry, the greater the diversity we’ll see and all benefit from in the retirement industry over time.

I love the retirement industry because … it is gratifying to help individuals work towards and achieve financial freedom and security which gives them choices!

Prior to joining WIPN — how difficult (or easy) was it to find networking and/or mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? It has taken over 20 years working in the retirement industry to eventually find a community of women to network with outside of my employer. I am very grateful to WIPN for providing a safe space to learn, grow, share ideas and experiences.

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