The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is a cornerstone of banking practices in the United States. Every day, thousands of ordinary people compulsively check the stock market, wondering whether their assets have increased or decreased by a few dollars. However, there is a large amount of behind the scenes “magic” that goes into raising and lowering these numbers, and older white men are traditionally the ones who trade company equity to shift the market. This was the case until March 2017, when Lauren Simmons became the youngest female equity trader on the NYSE floor, and the second black woman to do so in the stock exchange’s history.

            Lauren did not initially see herself developing a career in finance, graduating from Kennesaw State University with a degree in Science Genetics. After pursuing a few opportunities in the medical field, she realized that science was no longer her passion. Lauren drastically changed her trajectory and environment, moving to New York City for a fresh start. When it came time to rediscover her path and life, she returned to her love of numbers and statistics (her college minor).

Throughout the transition process, Lauren was her own biggest supporter and advocate. She applied for a position with Rosenblatt Securities, a research and investment banking firm, and was guaranteed the job with one contingency—that she passes a finance-related exam called the Series 19. Although many people doubted her ability to do so, she was awarded her certification and a new job on the NYSE floor alongside established, and skeptical, men.

In an open letter, Lauren said, “[Women] are capable to be in whatever field we want to be in and have the work ethic to be equally compared with males in the work field,” and she has not allowed her nay-sayers to intimidate her.

After close to a year of working on the floor, Lauren traded in her broker’s blazer for a Vice President position CTLR USA, a private equity firm. In an emotional Instagram post, she shared: “I am truly grateful. I am so excited to share that I am Vice President of Investment Risk at CTRL USA, a private equity firm. I can’t believe I’m a VP. Thank you all for the support and excited to have you on this journey with me. Happy New Year!”

This inspiring young woman is just beginning her impressive career at 24 years old and only time will tell what other major milestones she will accomplish. She represents a much-needed change in the face of finance in America and is paving the way for other women to succeed in similar roles. “I believe that we live in a great time where phenomenal women who are doing great things, despite society aspects on the traditional woman. I see a lot of women building their empires, going for their dreams, and just speaking up about issues that need to be talked about.”