What advice would you offer to women
just starting out in the industry?
Own your gender, but don’t let it define you
or allow it to create limitations for you. You
should aim to be the best in class, not the
best woman in class. Female or male, in
order to be successful, you must be hungry
to learn at each stage of your career, but
also be patient. Keep in mind that success
doesn’t happen overnight and you need
to learn the basics in order to master the
fundamentals. Think of your career as a
marathon and not a race – instead of focusing on being first out of the gate, focus on
consistently improving your performance
and coming in strong at the finish line.
What do you know now that you wish you
knew in the beginning of your career?
There is no black-and-white definition of
success. When I first started out in this in-
dustry, the definition of success for me was
very one-dimensional – it was all about my
career and reaching those traditional goals
in the industry. As I matured, I realized job
honesty in your communications -- if you
don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, you
will never get the advice and feedback you
What do you think the industry could do to
attract and retain the best and the brightest today?
As employers, we must look to minimize
the challenges women face in our industry.
Maintaining a career in this industry as a
woman can be challenging, particularly
if you’re looking to start a family. You can
only successfully balance your career in our
industry and family if you have an employer
willing to provide you with flexibility in
your schedule when needed. Paid maternity leave is the first opportunity to do this.
The small private companies in our industry
cannot wait to implement paid maternity
leave policies until they think they need
them or because they think they cannot
afford them. If they wait to take action
they will lose their female talent without
knowing why and the costs to replace these
key executives will cost much more than
an appropriate paid leave benefit. When a
woman comes back from leave, flextime is
an important benefit an employer can
provide to allow women to advance their
careers while also having a family. In
addition to vastly helping the employee
and her family, flextime has consistently been proven to boost morale
and productivity, which then increases
retention – again directly improving the
employer’s bottom line.
satisfaction and meaningful relationships
with colleagues are even more important
than the traditional milestones like pay
increases and titles. Then, when I started
a family I learned that personal success is
just as important as professional success
and for me, personally, I have found that the
two are not mutually exclusive. We would
probably all agree that, when we are dealing with a stressful situation at work, it is
hard not to bring it home. Likewise, for me
and no doubt many women, if things are
not running smoothly at home, I cannot be
my best in the boardroom.
If you start your career ensuring that
you are surrounding yourself with good
people and meaningful work, stellar job performance and job satisfaction will naturally
follow -- you will also build a support system
to help you overcome life’s professional and
What kind of role has mentoring and/or
sponsorship played in your career?
Nobody reaches the top without advice,
guidance and mentorship. For me, having a
mentor has been key to helping me successfully navigate our competitive field. Being
a woman in a male-dominated industry is
certainly not without its challenges, so it’s
important to watch and learn from your
successful counterparts, no matter their
gender. I have been lucky to have both
male and female mentors, all of whom
have taught me lessons that have been
immensely helpful in my career. The key
to finding the value in a mentor is brutal
ennifer joined Gerber in 2006 as a business development and marketing
associate. As a recent law school graduate who had intended on work-
ing in art or fashion, she did not expect to work in finance, but was hungry
for an entrepreneurial venture where she could truly make her mark.
Jennifer’s intense interest in the people and drive behind small-business success
proved to be an incredible guide, and she quickly rose to the role of vice president
of business development.
As Jennifer brought new deals to the table, Gerber began to rely on her legal experience to streamline the documentation process while reducing clients’ costs and
appointed her senior vice president and in-house counsel.
In 2013, Jennifer was appointed president of Gerber Finance. She is both the young-est and the first female president in the firm’s 20-year history. Jennifer was a recipient
of the CFA’s Inaugural 40 Under 40 awards in 2016.