Searching for accomplished Latinas, back in October I found the announcement of the LA CIMA Awards, a Week of Tribute to Women in Business and Leadership from the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The “Corporate Leader” award was bestowed to Dr. Codie Ann Sanchez-Baker, a young professional who has climbed the financial corporate ladder with one promise: to be part of a team that can realize change at a bigger scale.
Her story started some years ago, when Codie was still about to graduate from Arizona State University with a BA in Political Science, Public Relations and Journalism. While studying, Codie wrote a series of stories called The Generation Abandoned.
“In Mexico, a high percentage of elderly residents are left behind along the Northern border when the youngest members travel from the south of Mexico and Central America to the USA in search of work. Their families are divided as the elders are not able to make the crossing,” she said. “I learned about their lives and wrote stories to call attention on that matter.”
For such endeavor, Codie received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. “I was offered incredible jobs, and
graduated with honors,” she recalls. “I wrote those stories to give a voice to those who didn’t have one but soon I realized maybe nobody wanted to hear those stories.”
Codie understood that as a journalist, she had little power to achieve real change. “Real power was in money; those who have money have power, and can create massive change if they so choose,” Codie said.
She enrolled in Georgetown University and earned a Masters in International Business. Soon enough, she was offered a job as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, where she was probably not only the youngest woman but for sure the youngest Latina.
“I have been blessed enough to work at some of the best financial firms in the world; from Goldman Sachs to The Vanguard Group, and in roles from Chicago, to Boston, to San Francisco, to Latin America. I achieved much success and ascended rapidly from analyst, to associate, to Vice President, to Director and finally became Director and Head of Institutional Latin America Business for First Trust Portfolios, a $90 billion investment firm, in eight short years. Through this process, I realized it wasn’t only about that south of the border. It was about everyone who was left behind in our corporate world of finance. I made it my mission to understand financial markets, serve my clients, and increase opportunities for minorities in this traditionally male-oriented, homogenous industry,” Codie affirms.
In every position she landed, Codie worked hard at creating opportunities for fellow Latinos. Prior to First Trust and during her tenure at State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) –the world’s largest asset manager with $22 trillion in assets under care–, Codie was appalled at the low number of Latinos in top positions. “As an example, I was a Vice President and probably one of the only Latinas at that level at SSgA. So I created the first ever Latino Recruitment Group at that company and was chosen as their representative and speaker at both national conferences of the Association of Latino Professionals in Financing and Accounting (ALPFA) and the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA),” she recalls.
She has been elected to the board of Dallas’s ALPFA Chapter helping to bring in Fortune 1000 corporate sponsors, so that young Latino members would have a chance at top tier jobs. She is also on the board of the Dallas Association of Financial Professionals (DAFP).
“I encourage Latinos to take advantage of the many opportunities available in finances. Companies are constantly looking for diverse talents, and as young professionals we need to advance to positions of responsibility. Sometimes, we see institutions as ‘dirty’ but I truly believe in helping people grow through capitalism and economic development. I believe in a hand up not a hand out. The US is proof that capitalism is not perfect but it is our best solution,” Codie concluded.