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More Than Just a Job – Let’s Talk Career

Forté Foundation
Forté Foundation
More Than Just a Job - Let's Talk Career

When I was first looking for a job, I was looking for something that wasn’t just a job. I wanted a career. I was looking at my career in terms of a trajectory and I wanted to become eventually a CIO. What I was focused on is a large, but stable company. Looking at my peers in the same program, they were all focused on technology companies.

Chelsea Engel: PNC, this is Chelsea. I’m good. How are you? My name is Chelsea Engel. We are on the trading floor of PNC Bank. We actually just moved in here a few months ago. It’s a brand new trading floor. It’s very open, lots of windows, long desk space, no cubicles.

Elissa Sangster: Hello and welcome to the third and final podcast in our series talking with the women of PNC. One of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities including corporate banking; real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.

PNC is one of the fastest growing banks in the country with over 50,000 employees. Today, we talk with two women who are at the beginning of their careers. First, we talk with Chelsea Engel. Chelsea went to Penn State University and studied finance at the Smeal College of Business. Today, she’s an analyst in the Financial Institutions Group at PNC.

Chelsea Engel:I plan to go back to get my MBA sometime within the next few years, but right now, I’m going to focus on establishing my career here and then go back probably part-time within the next two years. I think it’s important to have a background in the business before attending business school. I know a lot of school like to see probably three to four years of actual experience before attending.

I interned with PNC in the Financial Institutions Group the summer after my junior year of college. I went through the recruiting program at Penn State. They hired me for a full time position. I thought that the internship program was very representative of what the day to day activities would be for me as a full time hire.

I learned through my internship program not only capital markets but other areas of the bank. I had great network and opportunities with senior management. I like the company as a whole where I was able to network and talk to the sales team and talk to the traders and talk to the operations department Everyone that I ran into at the bank has been extremely helpful. I say attend as many networking events as possible and PNC does a great job with that in the first year. Even though you’re all just starting out at the bank, it’s spread across all the different segments of the bank. If you ever have a question about anything, there’s always someone you know to call.

Elissa: Brittany Altimus is making her career in a completely different segment of PNC. She’s a management associate currently working in the technology group. She started at PNC in June of 2009.

Brittany Altimus: Essentially, the management associate has been titled as a fast track to CIO. We start in a rotational program for two years. Once we are concluded with the program, we’ll usually land in a position that’s either a PMO style job or in a technology management role. Because of the visibility of the projects that we operate and our ability to network with executive management with the CIO layer, typically we are given opportunities a little faster.

Elissa: Brittany obtained her masters in information systems management from the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University.

Brittany A.: The program itself is an intersection between technology and business. A lot of the students that come in either have a CS, computer science undergrad or they have, like I did, a business management undergrad. At the time, I was debating about going to MBA because I really did want to stay in the technology realm, but I wanted to have more of a management layer. That’s why I chose the information systems management program.

Elissa: Brittany took an unusually focused approach to choosing her post-MBA employer.

Brittany A.: When I was first looking for a job, I was looking for something that wasn’t just a job. I wanted a career. I was looking at my career in terms of a trajectory and I wanted to become eventually a CIO. What I was focused on is a large, but stable company. Looking at my peers in the same program, they were all focused on technology companies.

PNC had announced the acquisition of National City effectively doubling in size. Through the interview process, I was able to meet 15 technology managers and CIOs. What I started to recognize is that they all were authentically enthusiastic about the role that they played within the bank. As well, they had each held several positions, so I started to recognize, “Well, PNC does support the individual and their growth within the bank.”

Here, I had a found a company in PNC that was large, stable, supported my career path. They invested in their employees and in the community. I really got very excited about this opportunity. Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, I’m confident I made the right decision.

Elissa: Having decided on becoming a CIO while in graduate school, Brittany visited to research the career path other CIOs had taken. An online survey showed that 40% of CIOs had started out in product management.

Brittany A.: I thought, “Okay, product management sounds like a good career path.” There’s not really a major in product management. There’s majors where you can become a consultant or become a software developer, so I crafted one. I actually created a club for product managers. We would get together, discuss what we thought product management was like.

We became connected with the Pittsburgh chapter of Product Managers Coalition and they would come in and speak. We brought in professors to give us mini targeted sessions on topics that we chose. We would give each other professional development classes. I taught a class on behavioral interviews because I had given quite a few in jobs that I held before. It was an interesting adventure. I didn’t end up becoming a product manager, but at least it gave me that focus that I was looking for to launch that trajectory in my career.

Elissa: Thanks to Chelsea Engel, Brittany Altimus and all of the people at PNC who agreed to be interviewed. A special thanks to Robyn Simon for her gracious assistance. For more information about PNC, visit their website at This has been a Forté Foundation production.

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