How Female Investment Banker Confronts Stereotyping - Nina Godiwalla

In Chapter 5 of 14 of her 2010 Capture Your Flag interview, author Nina Godiwalla answers "How have you embraced being a fish out of water in your education, career and travels and what have you enjoyed most about the challenges they present?" Godiwalla shares how she finds herself a fish out of water in New York City upon graduating college.  Coming from Texas, public schools, and Parsi education into Wall Street as a female investment banker teaches Godiwalla about outsider status firsthand.  Godiwalla makes the most from an oft uncomfortable experience by turning lessons learned into education opportunities for other women considering an investment banking career.

Nina Godiwalla is the author of "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street" and the founder and CEO of Mindworks, a provider of leadership, stress management, and diversity training programs. Before starting her business and writing her book, Godiwalla worked at Johnson & Johnson and Oxygen Media and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Godiwalla earned an MBA from Wharton, a MA from Dartmouth and a BBA from the University of Texas.


Erik Michielsen: How have you embraced being a fish out of water in your education, career and travels and what have you enjoyed most about the challenges it presents?

Nina Godiwalla: When I went to New York I felt like I went to a different country and in a lot of ways I did, I mean I was going into a completely, the people I was with were a completely different socioeconomic class, not all of them but a lot of them, a lot of, they were all Ivy League, I was a kid, I was a public school kid coming from UT and there were other public school kids, it was just coming from Texas, it just the everything put together. I didn’t know people perceived Texas as so different in the US, that was probably one of the most startling things for me is that I didn’t know I was supposed to be living on a ranch.

There’s always been a sense of an outsider because I was an immigrant so I know I can be like other people but at the same, I mean I can be like the average American if I need to be, but I know that when I walk into my parents’ house, there’s a completely different environment that I walk into. And so that… going into that investment banking I think it was just startling for me, I didn’t know how different I was, I mean it made my childhood experience of growing up in a suburb as an immigrant look like nothing and then again, like I said, being a woman I didn’t even know that was going to be such a big deal, it’s just all of a sudden all these different aspects of my life that were everyday to me became suddenly they were outsider status and… that was very, to have all those different things happen all at once was, was challenging for me. That’s what I try and do for my book is look back at it and say ‘What can I learn from this?’ and that’s all I can do and I can help share the experience for other people that might be going through the same thing and after that, there it is.