Ayanna Clunis – CUP Member Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am currently a vice president within Securities Operations at Goldman Sachs.  My primary role is to drive productivity and client service through innovative and strategic implementations of global technology platforms, process re-engineering, and financial industry consortiums.  I partner with a host of project managers, broker dealer forums, technologist, sales representatives, and operational subject matter experts to deliver against our annual roadmap of initiatives.   Specifically, we identify opportunities to optimize our processes to provide the most efficient and service focused methods for enabling seamless onboarding and set-up of clients prior to trading.

I actually started my career as a chemical engineer working at firms such as P&G and Kraft Foods.  While I enjoyed the vigor associated with engineering within Operations, I was very interested exploring broader business challenges.  I therefore headed to business school and subsequently became a management consultant at Oliver Wyman.  As a consultant I was exposed to many different business problems and given an opportunity to work with senior leaders and consultants to define, analyze, and recommend solutions to complex business problems across a wide array of industries.  Over time, I began to develop a strength in strategy, cost management, and process re-engineering.  As my interest in financial services continued to develop, I moved to Citigroup where I managed global consulting spend within the Procurement organization, headed a re-engineering team within Business Services, and drove large change programs within the global Anti-Money Laundering organization.  I moved to Goldman Sachs a little over three years ago to join the Client Onboarding  team within Operations.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The biggest challenge that I face day-to-day is around influencing a very large group of global stakeholders to agree on approaches, designs, and implementation mechanisms for our strategic initiatives.  As the environment continues to evolve, we collectively negotiate priorities and resourcing daily.  It can be challenging to keep both the momentum of delivering solutions and the rigidity of a budget aligned throughout the year.

What is your proudest achievement?

The first thought that comes to mind when reflecting on this question is my two daughters.  I am very fortunate to have the ability and support from my family to juggle the demands of raising two young children along with my corporate responsibilities.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

Without naming specific people, as I can think of many, I tend to admire leaders who achieve great success despite facing many obstacles and setbacks along  their journey. I also gravitate towards leaders who express a highly philanthropic spirit, as I believe it is essential to ‘pay it forward’.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I envision potentially exploring an entrepreneurial venture that allows me to build upon the many great lessons I’ve learned throughout my career.  Additionally, I am interested in expanding my involvement across the community and potentially starting a nutrition or health related non-profit.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

I think young people should live purposefully, learn constantly, and lead passionately.