Experienced finance executive pays it forward

Heidi Lewis Ivey has been a Career Collaborative volunteer for nearly eight years, preparing participants for job interviews, presenting during Lunch and Learn sessions, and leading business learning workshops. 

Heidi found Career Collaborative while working at Bank of New York Mellon, where she was a vice president of investment manager services and looking for opportunities to mentor young women just starting out in the banking industry. As a Black woman in a profession overwhelmingly populated by white men, she faced additional obstacles to success outside of the simple challenges of the work.

“I really wanted to help a Black woman just starting out who could learn from my experiences so they wouldn’t have to walk the same route I walked,” Heidi says. 

As a VP, Heidi was well positioned to offer someone else the guidance and mentoring she lacked as a young professional. While she never did find an organization that matches experienced businesswomen with younger women, she did find Career Collaborative, where she has not only had the chance to work with Black women but has found “the opportunity to work with people of all races and ethnicities to be incredibly fulfilling.”

The Career Collaborative approach to career readiness also matches Heidi’s. “What I really like about the program is that the people who come to Career Collaborative have to do the work to succeed,” says Heidi, who is now a business engagement manager at Wells Fargo. “I’m a firm believer in the old saying that if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he'll eat for life.” 

That work—teaching people the skills they need to achieve independence through a career—is something Heidi excels at. She recalls a recent coaching session with a woman who had an excellent résumé and in-demand skills. “I really couldn’t figure out why she didn’t have a job,” says Heidi, noting that program participants sometimes need assistance explaining gaps in their work history or coaching on how to demonstrate that they’re qualified for a job—but that wasn’t the case with this woman.

As they went through the mock interview, Heidi asked why she had left her last position. With that question, “everything about her changed,” says Heidi. “Her facial expressions changed, her body language changed, and I knew there was a story behind why she left the previous position.”

So Heidi stopped the interview and asked what had happened. The woman confided that she had made a mistake that resulted in her firing. “I listened to her story and I said to her, ‘You're going to have to deal with that. You're going to have to go home, sit with it, come to terms with it and figure out a response because as soon as I asked you the question everything about you changed.” 

Heidi also told her that her inability to explain why she had left her last job was preventing her from getting a new one. “I told her that while she was saying one thing her body language was saying something else.” 

Heidi also discussed the woman’s plight with the career counselors at Career Collaborative, explaining that the woman’s inability to reckon with her firing was holding her back. They also strategized with Heidi about ways to help, and shortly after that breakthrough the woman landed a new job. 

Given her enthusiasm for helping others jumpstart their careers, it’s not surprising to learn that in addition to traditional volunteer tasks, Heidi also served as a mentor to a Career Collaborative participant, meeting with her monthly after she finished the program until the woman moved from Boston.  Heidi was thrilled to attend her mentee’s college graduation from New College of Business and Finance, in 2012.

In her role as a business engagement manager, Heidi manages Wells Fargo’s technology projects pipeline, ensuring that lines of businesses get funding for their projects. When she’s not reviewing funding pitches, Heidi often spends time engaging her colleagues in Career Collaborative volunteer projects. In the coming weeks a group of co-workers will present “Hands on Banking,” a Wells Fargo program that teaches the basics of personal financial management, such as budgeting and the proper use of credit.

She also talks up the organization every chance she gets. “I tell everybody I know about Career Collaborative, and each time somebody says they're looking for a job or they need help, Career Collaborative is the first place I recommend,” she says.