How to Not Lose Sight of the Big Picture with Erin Collins

Typically, bankers in New York City aren’t the first people we associate with making a positive impact on the world.  But that is crazy.  Often times, they are the very ones that are on the front lines of making sure projects come to life in emerging markets around the world, providing vital economic empowerment and local job creation. 

In this interview, we have Erin Collins, a Vice President of Corporate Credit at a French corporate and investment bank in New York City.  Erin has spent the last ten years of her career bringing projects to fruition across Latin America - from Sao Paolo to Guatemala - in sectors ranging from construction to healthcare to education. 

But what makes Erin so impressive is that she’s creating true impact in her career.  She has shown that the corporate world can have purpose, meaning and excitement.  You just have to remember to never lose sight of the bigger picture.

 

First, tell us a little about where you are living and what your life looks like at the moment.

I currently live and work in New York City.  I recently switched jobs to a vice president level position at a French corporate and investment bank.  Work takes up a significant amount of my time during the week, but I try to find time to cook and exercise, both of which I find to be good stress relievers.  On the weekends, I enjoy exploring the city and taking advantage of New York's culinary scene.  With my time off, I like to travel, especially internationally, and spend time with family and friends.

Give us some background on how you got to where you are today.

After graduate school, I joined a global Swiss insurance company through a rotational program where I had the opportunity to train in Zurich and complete a temporary rotation in Spain.  Upon completion of the program, I took a position as an international surety underwriter, where I analyzed and approved surety bonds (forms of performance guarantees) for international companies bidding on construction projects, primarily in the United States and Latin America.  The approvals were based upon the credit metrics of the companies as well as their track records completing similar projects.  Two months ago, I left that company to pursue a credit analyst role focused on Latin American companies.  The role builds upon my foreign language skills and the financial analysis skills that I developed in my roles as surety underwriter and through internships during graduate school.

How do you define success?

I define success for myself as excelling in a role that enables me to have an international impact and utilize my foreign language skills (I am fluent in Spanish).  Since I recently started at a new company, my primary goal is to master the skills required for my current role.  I also consider myself successful once I am viewed as someone that others can depend upon to see tasks through to completion or simply to serve as an expert resource for information on a particular topic.  Once I have achieved those goals, I view success as continued career advancement through positions with increasing responsibility.

How do you use your career and position to impact the world?

As a credit analyst, I am responsible for assessing the credit worthiness of our clients and prospective clients.  This credit assessment determines whether the companies are approved for either a surety bond (in the case of my former role) or financing in my current position.  Bonds and financing enable these companies to pursue projects that create local employment opportunities and provide much needed investment that ultimately benefits the local population.  I like to focus on the impact of the financing that I helped to approve. 

At a more micro level, I am actively involved in the women's organization within my company and recently had the opportunity through our partnership with a local non-profit to use my experience to assist disadvantaged women through interview and resume preparation.  I also participate in corporate fundraisers and co-led efforts at my former employer to raise money for the American Heart Association.  I have been fortunate to work for corporations with strong senses of corporate social responsibility that have enabled me to get involved.

What advice do you have for our readers on how they might use their careers to have a positive impact?

It is important to take a step back from time to time to see how your efforts contribute to projects or products that benefit local populations and help to improve the world.

Often, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and how our individual roles are having a positive impact.  It is important to take a step back from time to time to see how your efforts contribute to projects or products that benefit local populations and help to improve the world.  Active involvement with affinity networks and community investment efforts within your organization is another great way to use your career to have a positive impact, and now is an excellent time given the emphasis many organizations are placing on both diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility.


Each month we will hear from professionals using their careers to create an impact around the world.  If there is someone you believe we should feature, please email us at hello@mariemae.com.  If you know someone that would be interested in following this series, please feel free to forward this email or have them subscribe to our blog here.