Story on Undermining

City: Los Angeles

Industry: Musician

Discomfort pushed me into a new reality.

My first job out of college was at one of the top investment banking firms on wall street. I was the first black person in my program, and often times the only woman on the different projects I worked on, so I was well conditioned to go above and beyond to make an impact.

During my second year as an analyst I was assigned to work on this big project with a senior associate from my team. Him and I spent weeks working on the project and I was averaging over 100 hours a week to get it done, going above and beyond what was required and asked of me.

One morning, my intuition told me to come into work earlier than normal. When I got into the office, the senior associate I had been working with was in a meeting with the head of our group, our managing director. I overheard our managing director say, “This is awesome! Has Kelly been helping you with this?” To which the senior director responded, “Umm, kinda, but it’s been mostly me.” I was floored!!! I couldn’t believe it and, if I hadn’t followed my intuition and came in early, I never would have heard it with my own ears.

When the senior director walked out of the meeting and saw me sitting at my desk, it was as if he saw a ghost. I was so shocked I couldn’t even believe it. Given the company culture, I didn’t feel empowered to bring it up, so I kept it to myself. Keeping it to myself was painful. Every day I became more and more resentful of the company. After a couple months of feeling this way, I decided I was going to dedicate my life to creating a reality for myself that I was passionate about and fulfilled by.

I left the company and moved to Paris where I began my journey of self-discovery. It’s been about eight years since that happened, but I am grateful for the experience now. At the time, it made me uncomfortable, but that discomfort pushed me into a new reality of thinking and, for that, I am grateful.