Lauren Simmons encourages other women to follow their passion. “It’s OK if you’re told no. I was told no countless times,” says the equity trader for Rosenblatt Securities. “Have that grit and persistence. You only need one yes. Once you get that one yes, take off with that opportunity.”
Wall Street and the financial industry have traditionally been dominated by white men. But Simmons is undeterred.
“I’m empowered,” she says. “I get to learn from them. There’s no other setting where you’ll get to be in a room with 250 men and get to almost embody them. They work with confidence, they’re committed and accountable.”
She says her male colleagues have been supportive, for the most part. That may soon change now that her success story — which has been the subject of many news reports — will soon be made into a movie starring Kiersey Clemons. Simmons is currently meeting with writers to prep her story for the big screen.
Simmons grew up in Marietta, Georgia, and studied medicine at Kennesaw State University. She was motivated to go into medical research or become a genetic counselor to help people like her twin brother, who has cerebral palsy. But in her senior year, Simmons decided she wanted to be more hands-on in her career, so she focused on getting a job using her statistics minor.
She moved to New York in December 2016, right after graduating. Her mother, who works in human resources for The Home Depot, advised her to stand out from other job applicants. She knew she had to network and meet decision-making people who could guide her career.
With a hustle mindset, Simmons went to over 100 job interviews. Three months later, she started her current job. When she applied for a job at Rosenblatt Securities, she was told she was overqualified. But Gordon Charlop, the firm’s managing director and partner, reached out to her on LinkedIn and convinced her to interview for a floor trader position.
She was hired and only had one month to study and take the Series 19 exam, a test all floor brokers must pass. It was stressful and she studied intensely.
“I thrive on people who doubt me,” says Simmons, who passed on the first try, much to the chagrin of naysayers.
Simmons sets boundaries, making sure everyone knows she’s all about business. Still, she’s herself.
“I’m very smiley, very charming, very Southern,” says Simmons, who loves fashion and feels confident when she’s dressed up. “I have not had to change that at all. I’m also very feminine.”
She’s optimistic that other companies, especially those on Wall Street, will empower more women.
“The financial industry is definitely going to have to catch up and they will — it’s just going to take some time,” she says, explaining companies first need diversity in leadership. “The more you do that, the more it will trickle down to your entry-level positions and being more inclusive.”
Simmons, who is single and lives in Brooklyn with her dog, a white Maltese named Kasper, has been busy traveling and sharing her story. Next year, she’s headed to Beijing, Morocco and Cape Town.
As for her future? It’s tough to say.
“Five years from now, maybe I’ll be in the financial industry, who knows?” she says. “I’m a millennial.”
What she is sure of, however, is that one day she’ll be a CEO, where she will continue to inspire other women “to be amazing.”