Co-head of North American mergers and acquisitions, JPMorgan Securities LLC, New York

Smith Majors
Economics and computer science

Career path
Aiyengar started at American Express, completed an M.B.A. at Vanderbilt University and in 1999 was hired by JPMorgan as an associate in the mergers and acquisitions group. She moved up the ladder to become a managing director in that group, specializing in financial institutions and consumer and retail companies; earlier this year she was promoted to her current position.

How to get noticed and rewarded
“Be more self-promotional. Women don’t want to toot their own horn; it makes them uncomfortable. In meetings, women edit themselves and don’t think they should speak unless they have something really intelligent to say, where guys will speak up even if what they’re saying isn’t interesting; they didn’t set an impossible bar for themselves. I tell young women, here is the difference between men and women: If I ask for research, the woman will email me her analysis. The guy will also email it to me, but he then finds a way to catch me walking down the hallway or in an elevator and say, ‘Let me explain what I found.’ So, now I remember him, his face, that he did work on this project; the next time I see him, we will chat about it. The woman did as much work, but she never found a way to highlight it. Informally, there are several opportunities every day to be recognized that women often don’t take advantage of. If someone senior asks how it’s going, don’t say fine. Talk about what you’re working on. Find out what others are working on—and recast what you’ve done in a way that can be useful to them. Once you speak up, people do pay attention.”

SAQ, Fall 2015