Manning Speaker Series Features Alumni Execs

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MSB alum and Fidelity executive Laura Pollard urged students get professional experience through co-op jobs and internships. 

By Dan Cook

Laura Pollard earned a degree in finance and built a successful career at one of the world’s largest financial services firms, but money isn’t her primary motivator. Integrity and opportunities for growth are at the top of her list.

“Happiness is the key to success, not money,” said Pollard, an executive vice president at Fidelity ActionsXchange, a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments that provides complex financial data to some of the world’s top asset managers, broker-dealers and hedge fund operators. Pollard, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the Manning School of Business in 1989, returned to campus as a featured guest of the Robert J. Manning Speaker Series. Addressing a group of students, she described her career path and offered strategies for success, based on her 24 years at Fidelity.

Pollard said classmates originally questioned why she took a job with a low starting salary, but she explained she was more concerned with a good fit than finances. What mattered most to her were the company’s integrity and the career advancement opportunities.

Though she has remained with the same company for more than two decades, her role and job title have not been as fixed. Before joining the ActionsXchange subsidiary, she was vice president of Fidelity Charitable Services.  Prior roles included vice president of client services for Fidelity Employer Services Company and as vice president, services and systems management for retirement services.

“It’s good to plan for a career, but you need to be open-minded,” she said. “A career is not necessarily a linear path from promotion to promotion.”

Pollard has made several “horizontal moves” at the firm, managing various project teams and making the transition from the finance-based 401K business.

“I always look for opportunities to be challenged, learn, grow and have fun,” she said.

Pollard encouraged students to pursue any interesting internship and co-op opportunities offered by the University.

“Get your foot in the door and find out what you like and what you don’t so you can develop preferences for the future,” she said.

One of her biggest challenges as a working mother has been balancing work and personal life. Pollard suggested working for supportive companies with positive workplace environments. She also stressed the importance of networking and finding mentors to serve as personal advocates.

When asked about her approach to difficult assignments and applying for new positions, Pollard preached resiliency.

“You need to be confident that you can add value to a company and be able to sell yourself,” she said.

The Manning Speaker Series will continue with two more guests scheduled this semester: Jonathan Geanakos ’84, executive vice president with Monday Properties in New York, on Tuesday, March 26; and John Vigeant ’98, CEO of tech startup Tracelytics, on Tuesday, April 2.  Both programs will held in Falmouth Hall 313 at 4:30 p.m.