Fed Governor, Elizabeth Duke in this speech talks about her journey from being a community banker to becoming a governor at Fed.
Interestingly, she wanted to be an actress but too up banking to manage her acting dream.
I chose a career in banking for one simple reason: I needed a job. Regardless of economic conditions, the acting profession has an unemployment rate of about 95 percent–or so it seemed to me at the time. So I looked for something I could do almost anywhere and with hours that would leave plenty of time to pursue my dream. I found a job as a part-time drive-through teller. Later when I needed a full-time job, I went to work in a start-up bank. And even though I didn’t start out to be a banker, I found a career in that little bank.
The president of the bank was an old-fashioned community banker and a natural teacher. He taught me everything he knew about banking, and that was plenty. Fifteen years later, when he died suddenly of a massive heart attack, I had learned enough to take his place as chief executive officer.
My banking education began with him as my mentor and with plenty of on-the-job training. Because the bank was just starting up, there were only 11 employees. With lots of work to be done and not many people to do it, I was able to try my hand at nearly every job at the bank and to see the results of every action that was taken. One of those early jobs was reconciling the bank’s account at the Federal Reserve and calculating the bank’s reserve position.
Amazing stuff really. From an actress to a central banker actually..
She says if one gets a job at Fed he/she should simply take it. It is an amazing place:
The culture of the Federal Reserve is an interesting blend of government, academia, and business. Differences of opinion regularly occur, but they are a source of strength rather than conflict within the institution. They add liveliness to the debate and richness to the decision making process. The System is a treasure trove of data, research, and institutional memory about the economy and the financial system. It is stimulating, and occasionally exhausting, to be surrounded by so much brainpower and intellectual curiosity. But everyone approaches the work with a serious sense of purpose and collegiality. It is hard for me to describe what it is like to work there, but if you ever get the chance to do so, I would highly recommend it.
Great journey in all ways.
Also amazing how one can switch careers/take jobs in US. In India it is all so parochial with one needing an MBA for even basic teller kind of jobs. We should be more open to allowing experimentation in careers. Very few know what their strengths are and end up taking careers based on current hype. And then we have a problem of having very limited career options with parents wanting their kids to take up standard stuff - doctor, engineering and now MBA. Yes, we have become better over the years but still much more needs to be done.