Michelle L Marquez became a stock trader in the early 80s, at a time when this was something that women just didn’t do. There were some females on Wall Street back then but most were working clerical or admin positions and she was one of 7 or 8 women who were actually working as traders. Most of those women didn’t survive but Michelle continued to thrive in this role and she has forged a highly successful career from it. I first met Michelle when we were studying economics together and her story is truly inspirational.
Unlike many of us Michelle knew exactly what she wanted to do before she even got to high school and that was to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a stock broker. This ambition was not only something which Michelle had inside, it was also something that her father would bring out of her, allowing her to believe that she could go on to make it as a female in the world of finance. She used to tell me how her father would let her study charts with him and financial data, something which lighted the fuse in her imagination.
Because of the fact that Michelle knew exactly what she wanted to do for a career she was able to focus on the aspects of her education which would give her the best chances of making it. Michelle never had any passion for the arts or humanities but she would come alive when studying mathematics or economics, and this is where she would end up focusing her college education. Michelle’s father had told her that global politics would very often affect stock prices and so she also took a keen interest in that.
After having a raft of interviews from brokerage firms there was one which eventually gave Michelle a chance and she had to shadow one of the senior brokers for a few weeks as she cut her teeth in the industry. Thankfully this senior broker had known Michelle’s father which certainly helped her a great deal in terms of having some protection in her early stage of the job. Once the first few weeks was out of the way, she hit the trading floor.
Her early years in the business really forced her to have some thick skin and the level of sexism which existed back then was unprecedented. Michelle never let it show however she just kept her head down and worked hard. Michelle was also very aware that she would have to work even harder than the men because if she didn’t then they would think that she didn’t belong there. Michelle got past those initial years and then equality finally crept up on the stock exchange, and she became accepted as an equal.
Michelle may not admit it but she was very much a trailblazer for many of the women who now work in the industry, a true inspiration.