Area students hear from ‘most powerful woman in finance’

Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart recently hosted a virtual public forum aimed at motivating girls to explore high-level business executive roles. COVID-19 guidelines allowed juniors and seniors to attend in person while others joined via a free live stream. The program was part of an annual Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite series, in which leading female executives share stories and insights from their professional experiences during presentations to students at the all-girls college-preparatory high school in Lake Forest.

Those participating in the April 21 session heard from Woodlands Academy alumna Mary Erdoes, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s asset and wealth management division. Named by American Banker "the most powerful woman in finance" Erdoes has led the company's investment management and private banking arm for the past decade. She also has been named “the most powerful woman on Wall Street” by the Wall Street Journal and is included in numerous listings of Forbes’ Most Powerful 100 Women. Erdoes is the inaugural recipient of Woodlands’ Janet Erskine Stuart Alumna Achievement Award recognizing professional and personal accomplishments that are both rare and extraordinary while exemplifying the mission of a Sacred Heart education.

“The three years I was here was like 30 years of grounding and strength,” Erdoes told her audience. “I wouldn't be where I am today without my years at Woodlands.”

Alumna Laura Bartusiak served as the program’s moderator. The Lake Forest native graduated from Woodlands Academy in 2015 and currently is employed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a healthcare services and life sciences credit analyst at the firm’s Seattle, Washington, office. Prior to the event, freshmen and sophomores participated in a financial literacy workshop while juniors and seniors took part in a career exploration & planning session.

“Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite was born out of a desire to motivate students to explore career paths that they might not have previously considered,” said Head of School Meg Steele. “We are thrilled to host it, not only for the students at Woodlands Academy, but for young girls throughout Chicagoland to envision that some of those paths can include leadership roles in areas such as the male-dominated STEM fields.”

Prior to the April 21 public event, Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite sessions for Woodlands Academy students this school year featured Hadiyah-Nicole Green, who is using her doctorate in physics to cure cancer using lasers and nano-particles, and Grier Wilt, deputy director of NASA's Operations in Star City, Russia. “Opportunities to meet and learn from women like these are rare,” Peter Cashman, social studies teacher/C-Suite student preparation coordinator, said. “For young women like our students, experiences like these are the seeds of future dreams and accomplishments.”

Erdoes' presentation was recorded and can be viewed via the following link: