Sheray Oliver (She/Her)
WIPN DE&I Committee
How has WIPN had an impact on you and your career? The biggest impact WIPN has made for me is the wealth of resources and connections. At any given time, I can learn more about industry trends and topics. I also find value in the local social activities.
Why did you step forward to be a DE&I committee member? I was initially invited to join a meeting by Rosalyn Brown, whom I was introduced to by my Sr. VP Jania Stout. I was thoroughly impressed by the work the group was doing – specifically the annual DE&I Conference. I knew I had to get involved to help push the initiative forward.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? I found and fell in love with the retirement industry purely by accident back in 1998. It was then I realized that average, everyday people could become millionaires – a concept that previously seemed reserved for the “rich.” It’s important for me to be able to break those stereotypes and make retirement investing more accessible, easier to understand, and to pass this along to others.
What has been most important to your career so far – a mentor, a sponsor or both? Prior to WIPN I did not know the value of either. Being surrounded by so many knowledgeable, industry leaders has influenced me to seek guidance and support externally.
What changes do you hope to see for women in the retirement industry in the next five years? I hope to see more women in leadership roles and in positions of collaboration and mentorship with other minorities.
Associate Marketing Manager at John Hancock
WIPN DE&I Committee
How has WIPN had an impact on you and your career? Marian Wright famously said, “you can’t be what you can’t see,” and I couldn’t agree more. WIPN has allowed me to be a part of a network of diverse women whom I respect and admire. I feel so grateful to be able to learn from them and feel so inspired by what they have been able to accomplish.
Why did you step forward to be a DE&I committee member? I’ve experienced firsthand the importance that DEI efforts have. I know that if people can see themselves being represented in the real world, it opens doors for so many opportunities and paves the way for a far more diverse and inclusive world.
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? No matter what stage you’re in your career or life, you can always be a role model. I strive to always be an advocate for my community, hopefully giving confidence to others to pursue professional goals. It’s difficult to strive for those positions when you don’t see people that share your same identity or experiences.
What has been most important to your career so far – a mentor, a sponsor or both? I did not grow up in the US, so for me connections or guidance are something I am always working on and am forever grateful for. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who has introduced me to networks like WIPN and has encouraged me to take on different roles.
Director, Defined Contribution Consultant at BlackRock
WIPN Texas Co-chair
How has WIPN had an impact on you and your career? WIPN has been a wonderful community to me throughout my career. When I think about the network within the group it is filled with such motivating, helpful and successful women. Having an instant connection with so many people has opened doors over the years. We are able to brainstorm business needs, personal questions and develop friendships that go beyond work.
Why did you step forward to volunteer as a co-chair in your local chapter? Organizing and gathering people is in my blood I think! And serving others as well. I know firsthand that this group, the events, the networking opportunities only happen from volunteers time and energy. I had the chance to lend my efforts to this great group and felt a calling to do so!
How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? First – how am I the role model now? LOL. Time goes by quickly my friends! It’s funny to think that I have amassed a fair amount of knowledge through a couple of decades in this business. I think it’s critical to share that knowledge with others – because it only helps all of us. Why make the next generation learn the same lessons we had to? Shorten that learning curve! Make room for new ideas and energy. That’s the most motivating part!
What has been most important to your career so far – a mentor, a sponsor or both? During my last semester of college I had a full time internship. I was hired into that group even before graduation. That group of people – from my team mates to my managers showed me at the very start what it means to be both a mentor and a sponsor. I didn’t realize the amazing gift I had to experience that in my first corporate job. Since then I have had the luck of working with great people and learning to advocate for myself, seek out mentors and lean into sponsorship at every phase.