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Jane Gladstone – Evercore: Make a Contribution That Can Survive You

Jane-GladstoneJane Gladstone’s success in investment banking is as exceptional as the path that led her to the top of her industry. This year alone, the Evercore Senior Managing Director was named among the Bloomberg Markets “50 Most Influential,” a list led by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and also including U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis. Yet when she launched her career at J O Hambro Magan bank nearly 25 years ago, she had a degree in art history, no finance experience, and a salary trailing the janitor’s.

Early Inspiration

“I’ve always been a bit of a renaissance person,” Jane said in reflecting on her earlier years. “I’ve always had a lot of diverse interests.”

She believes studying art history made her more observant, which helps her tremendously in business despite being an under-appreciated quality. Jane still enjoys art, music, and theater, now sharing these passions with her 12-year-old daughter.

The economy was also always on Jane’s list of interests, inspiring a childhood activity she invented and played with her sister called the “Passes Game.” Jane didn’t want her sister in her room—but her sister wanted to watch Jane’s television—so Jane explained this gave them “a basis to trade.” Even though they didn’t know the proper name for it at the time, they each had their own Central Banks and traded for each other’s currency and other goods and services. In the end, the gold standard was whether one could enter the other’s room—showing just how unique Jane’s thinking about these issues was from the beginning.

Her Career Today

Jane now leads Evercore’s financial services advisory practice. She’s responsible for advising major financial institutions and financial technology companies on capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, and restructurings. Her favorite part of her job is supporting some of the “most innovative companies on the planet” with their most important transactions. “A company can typically only sell itself once, or go public once,” she said. “Or, if it’s working through a restructuring, that’s the corporate equivalent of life or death.”

In talking about how fun, fascinating, and challenging it is to support these transactions, she added: “After almost 25 years, I still feel very grateful to have such a fascinating job that allows me to work with such talented people.”

Many signs point to just how remarkable Jane is at her job. Dealmaker magazine named her one of the Top 50 rainmakers on Wall Street; she’s been among the few women invited to be a delegate to the World Economic Forum; and she’s a member of the Committee of 200, an invitation-only organization of the world’s most successful women business leaders.

Betting on the Future

When asked what has been pivotal to her success, Jane said: “Betting my career on the future—and being generally right.”

Examples include choosing to specialize in financial technology “before anyone else cared” as a young banker at Morgan Stanley, her second career stop where she worked for over 12 years and rose to Managing Director. Another was leaving Morgan Stanley to join Evercore in July 2005, before the Global Financial Crisis, when Evercore was just a small company. No one specialized in financial services at Evercore when Jane joined, so she built its Financial Institutions Group recognizing the impact it could have on its growth. She has since helped Evercore to go public at $21 per share and become a global company with a stock price over $50.

Talking about what attracted her to finance more broadly, she said: “I’m interested in what allows a business to sustain itself. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s Co-Founder and Chairman, talks about his 102-year vision. He couldn’t have that vision without building a company that could sustain itself after he’s gone. When you start thinking about your legacy, making a contribution that can survive you is really important.”

Work-Life Perspectives

As Jane makes countless contributions in the business world, the rest of her life is just as full as her daughter approaches her teenage years. However, she’s quick to stress that she wouldn’t wish away these challenges—and leans on her team as she works through them.

“Juggling is hard in any job,” she said. “It’s a challenge to do this job and have a family and other interests. But I’d rather juggle and have all of this fun across my professional and personal life than give any of it up.”

For Jane, juggling effectively requires the right workplace culture: “It helps if you’re part of a great team. I know—and my team knows—that we’ve got each other’s back. It makes all the difference.”

Evercore’s Culture—Multigenerational Perspectives

Johanna-RobinsonJohanna Robinson, a standout young professional at Evercore, described how Jane and other leaders create a company culture that will sustain Evercore well into the future.

Johanna started as an Associate in Evercore’s corporate advisory business in August 2013. Her early career years were marked with academic success. She graduated from Cornell University with a BA in economics and psychology, earned her JD from Harvard Law School, and most recently received an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in finance.

She first discovered her passion for business while in law school, which was reaffirmed in the two years she worked as a lawyer at O’Melveny & Myers. Launching her work in corporate advisory has been a chance to pursue that passion, and choosing to do so at Evercore was very intentional.

Evercore’s environment enables Johanna to apply the two biggest business lessons she’s learned outside the classroom:

  1. Take on work outside of your comfort zone. “I’ve grown the most and gained the most confidence when I’ve been the most overwhelmed,” Johanna said. “I feel lucky that Evercore pushes me in situations like these.”
  2. Find a work environment where you can be yourself. “I work a lot,” Johanna said. “Pretending to be someone else at work would be a big waste of time and energy. I’m lucky I found a place where I’m comfortable.”

Johanna also stays at Evercore because of the team’s commitment to her development. She’s benefitted from both informal mentorship relationships and formal offerings such as the Advisory Women’s Forum.

Johanna added that Jane is one of many leaders who is very active in this group, hosting networking events and talking openly about her career and family.

As Jane put it: “Folks with experience like to give advice and help people starting out. And don’t assume your mentor has to look and act exactly like you.” She acknowledged a diverse list of women—and men—who are her mentors.

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