Founder of Rock The Street, Wall Street Invited to White House STEM Conference

Founder of Rock The Street, Wall Street Invited to White House STEM Conference

The Founder and Executive Director of Rock The Street, Wall Street, Maura Cunningham, was invited to attend The White House Conference on Inclusive STEM Education on Oct. 28.

STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), experts, educators, students and community organizers who are trying to ensure greater access for marginalized youth, including girls and youth of color, were invited by The White House Council on Women and Girls.

Conference attendees exchanged ideas on how to offer a more robust system of exposure to get more women and minorities into jobs where they are currently few in number. This matters as the United States is losing two thirds of the job talent available for these jobs – women and people of color.

Panelists brought up the fact that college professors are OK with girls dropping out of majors involving STEM. The question was asked, “Why is that?” This laid back attitude on college campuses across the country contributes to the lack of women in STEM careers including the financial services industry.

There was genuine passion among the attendees that lent to the elevation of these issues and to proactively seeking ways to move toward solutions.

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Careers in STEM like engineering, tech and finance are tools that lift people out of poverty. If the underrepresented are unaware nor encouraged into these professions, their options throughout their lifetimes and the generations that come after them, may be more limited than if they had.

RTSWS aims to bring to light the opportunities in finance – both in improved financial literacy and in pursuing a profession in finance.  Our programs bring relevancy to the girls as to why they should want to learn finance to improve their lives, their families and their communities.

One student on the panel said he practiced being an engineer before studying it, which is what RTSWS’s programming does for girls: They get to practice being a financial planner for client Jane in our classroom workshops. And who better to teach them these skills than our female financial professionals from the financial services sector?

Conference panelists and attendees addressed negative stereotypes of women and minorities. They discussed how creating more public/private partnerships may help lead to a more diversified workplace. Oakland, Calif. Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson knew he could not move the needle on this issue without forming partnerships with STEM industry professionals, such as those at nearby Salesforce in San Francisco, CA.

RTSWS completely supports these types of public/private partnerships and looks forward to collaborating with financial industry leaders on getting more women in finance.

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Megan Smith, U.S Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, formerly with Google(X) Research Lab,  said partners are always needed to scale up.  She thanked everyone for their vigilance on the issue of diversity in STEM.

UBS Field Trip: Nashville Girls Learn About The Global World Of Finance

UBS Field Trip: Nashville Girls Learn About The Global World Of Finance

Girls from one of the Metro Nashville Public High Schools, Hillsboro, visited UBS Business Solutions in downtown Nashville.

UBS used to be an acronym for Union Bank of Switzerland. The bank began in Switzerland and has grown to have a global footprint with over 60,000 employees. Over the years, UBS has merged with or acquired other banks to enable its growth. Their entry into the U.S. began in 2001. The company symbol of three keys stands for pillars, principles and behaviors.


The girls learned that the first day the markets traded more than 100 million shares was in 1982 on the New York Stock Exchange. The average daily volume of shares traded on the NYSE is now just over 2 billion.


Sam Kalchuk and Sarah Looney first spoke with the girls about the history of UBS. Sam gave them a tour of the UBS offices. The Nashville Solutions Center location has over 1,300 employees!

The Nashville location partners with other UBS  Solution Centers around the globe, so work is done around the clock.


The agenda provided ample time for the girls to ask questions about financial instruments, college paths and what it takes to have a career in finance.


Wanda Lyle, General Manager of UBS Business Solutions in Nashville, spoke with the girls over lunch. She explained how her daughter at a young age used to ask her why there are so few women in executive roles in finance. This inspired Wanda to make her daughter proud and become an executive in an industry mostly dominated by men.

She serves as a strong role model to women who are considering careers in the financial services industry.


Her career has taken her all over the world. She told the girls they could also have careers like hers and that nothing would stop them from being successful.


The students took a photo with Wanda Lyle, their teacher Dr. Kriebel, and members of RTSWS.


Five UBS panelists spoke to the girls about their experiences as women in the financial services industry:

  • Lindsey Walker: Graduate Trainee, Group Technology / Compliance & Operational Risk
  • Campbell Estes: Business Analyst, Investment Bank COO
  • Cher Cuthbertson: Associate Director, Performance Reporting Manager
  • Sejal Desai: Executive Director, Client and Tax Reporting Service Delivery Manager
  • Marie Christine Crewe: Managing Director, Head of Group Risk Control Nashville and Risk Control Operations

The women talked about their college and career paths and stressed to the girls that confidence is very important in the workplace. They encouraged the girls to ask questions when starting their careers because no one expects them to know everything.

When a student asked the panelists how they got to UBS, Cher said she enjoys analyzing data and building relationships. Her career at UBS enables her to do both.


Marie Christine said she has been fortunate in her career to have met or worked with individuals who have pushed her out of her comfort zone. She has grown as a person and also as a working professional because of this. “Forging those relationships and nurturing them is very important,” she said.

Sejal encouraged the girls to surround themselves with positive people who support and encourage them in their careers and life goals.

Marie Chrstine said, “Being a woman is actually an advantage” in the financial services industry.

Campbell echoed these messages: “People want diversity, and it can be fun being one of the only women on the team.”

A student asked the panel members what they recommend they do to succeed in their careers. Sejal said it is important to be focused and set goals throughout life. Lindsey recommended the girls become very familiar with financial terminology and study the background of the company where they hope to be employed.


The students received Rock The Street, Wall Street certificates of completion for their class participation this semester before heading back to school. This is one trip they will never forget!

Jackson Field Trip Shows Ravenwood High School Girls What A Career In Finance Is Like

Jackson Field Trip Shows Ravenwood High School Girls What A Career In Finance Is Like

Rock The Street Wall Street-0076.jpgRTSWS students at Ravenwood High School learned what a career in finance is like while on their field trip to Jackson National Life Insurance on Oct. 26.

They spoke with several members of the Jackson team, including Chairman Barry L. Stowe and Emilio Pardo: senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer. Susannah Berry, corporate social responsibility specialist, provided the students with a tour of the offices, located in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee.

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Chairman Barry L. Stowe and Emilio Pardo, senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, discussing sovereign debt and the importance of being financially literate with the RTSWS students.


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Ashley Golson, vice president of the sales desk, has been working for Jackson since 2007.

Ashley Golson,vice president of the sales desk, discussed her education in communications and her career path. After college, she was offered a position at Jackson and she learned very quickly about annuities and other retirement products. She worked her way to become vice president of the sales desk.

Ashley explained that she had always liked math but not science and that she had thought her only career opportunity involving math would be in engineering. She loves her job and told the students that a career in finance is very achievable and personally rewarding.

“I love Jackson and finance because if you don’t understand how money works, you’re at a disadvantage,” Ashley shared. “Jackson opened my eyes to this.”

Ashley manages internal wholesalers and business development consultants. One of the girls asked Ashley what skills are needed to be successful at Jackson. A continuous learner and good work ethic, she responded, will get you far. Other traits she looks for in employees are great communication skills, an internal drive to reach goals, open to criticism and is very approachable.

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Madison Georgi, internal wholesaler, speaks with the girls.

Speaking of internal wholesalers, four of them spoke with our girls. Madison Georgi explained the need for a company like Jackson: “People are living longer; how do they pay for it?” Jackson assists financial advisers across the country in finding the best suitable investment products for their clients.

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The discussion panel, led by Susannah Berry, is composed of (from left) internal wholesalers Sarah Langston, Rebekah Ammann, Krystal Jensen, and Ally Hartter.

A panel of four internal wholesalers answered questions from the students and talked about their college and career paths to Jackson. They all very much enjoy what they do. Their jobs require them to continuously increase their financial product and tax knowledge, communication skills (with clients and financial advisors), and their public speaking skills.

The last piece of advice the panel offered our students: Bite off more than you can chew and grow from the experience. Whether you rise or fall, you will be wiser and more confident for when the next challenge comes your way. Well said!

Are hedge funds missing out? We’re trying to change that.

Are hedge funds missing out? We’re trying to change that.

Hillsboro.jpgWe’re thrilled to be mentioned in this
Business Insider article about the lack of women in the hedge fund industry.

As we have seen from our work with many organizations in the financial services industry, hedge funds are among those that are not searching for gender diversity among their employees.

The article states, “Investing is one of the last frontiers where women are this underrepresented.” Think about it: No one bats an eye when a woman wants to become a lawyer, doctor, athlete, or many other professions. We want the same to be true for women who want to pursue financial careers.

Rock The Street, Wall Street aims to equip high school girls with financial skills and potentially pursue careers in finance. While a recruiter in the article says only 5% of the candidates he finds are women, our goal is to raise the visibility of qualified females and increase this number over the years.

Our classroom instructors include female financial pros from firms that include TD Ameritrade, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Jackson National, and UBS. Our pros are role models and mentors for the girls and share firsthand what careers in finance are like; that finance, for the most part, is nothing more than first-year algebra; and that our girls are very capable of being successful in the financial services industry.

While we educate high school girls to become financially literate — critical in itself given that 7 out of 10 women state they know little to nothing about finance — we also reach out to a variety of businesses, organizations and government entities in the financial sector to tell them about our mission and educate them on the lack of women in finance.

We believe finance is at the heart of opportunity.

Kicking off the stock investment case study at Byron Nelson and Ravenwood high schools

Kicking off the stock investment case study at Byron Nelson and Ravenwood high schools

We have kicked off our business case study at Byron Nelson High School in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, TN. How better to start a study than sampling the product?

Our students are doing a business case study of Dunkin Donuts vs. Krispy Kreme and deciding which stock Jane, our 34-year-old fictional investor, should choose to invest in.

On Day 1, our girls learned about what they’d be doing during these sessions. They read the objectives of the case study and how, at the end, they will be presenting their investment decision to their classmates.

Donuts are great inspiration

Doughnuts are great inspiration. Krispy Kreme gets a thumbs up from one team.

Sweet treats kick off this case study

Sweet treats kick off this case study. This team gives Dunkin Donuts a thumbs up on taste.

It's day 1 of fun!

Now down to the business model.

Our student work in small groups to complete this course

Our students work in small groups to complete this course.

Which company do you think our students will choose for Jane to invest in: Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme?