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San Francisco #FemmeNouvelle: Mary Brickley

Mary Brickley (MB) is the epitome of a #GirlBoss. As a woman in the male-dominated industry of finance, MB has worked hard her entire career and proven to others that she has what it takes to be successful. She defeated the odds moving up the ladder in corporate banking, and now manages a growing team of young professionals for a private bank.

Mother to two go-getter young women starting their own journeys post-grad, MB and her husband are now entering a new chapter as "empty-nesters" in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here's MB's advice to other women looking to eliminate barriers and break into Wall Street:

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The Nouvelle Connection (The NC): How would you define success?

Mary Brickley (MB): Success is being at ease in your life. It’s not the accumulation of things or wealth, but happiness in the decisions you’ve made and how those shape your day to day experience.

The NC: What are some of your daily habits/life hacks that have aided in your success?

MB: I’m a list person! Sometimes lists are just to empty my mind so I can sleep! Mostly, I use lists to make sure I don't forget short term and long term goals. I check in periodically to see if I’m on track or whether the to-do still matters.

The NC: What is the first thing you do to start your day?

MB: Drink a cup of strong coffee made by my hubby and greet my kitties.

The NC: What are three essential things you carry with you in your bag when you leave the house? Besides your phone and credit cards!

MB: Lip balm and lipstick (can that count as one?), sunglasses (always), and a notepad (for writing lists!)

The NC: 5 things you recommend for women looking to pursue a career in banking?


  • 1) Take a few accounting and finance courses - in college or at night. You have strength with knowledge.
  • 2) Practice public speaking - try Toastmasters! It’s free, supportive and works!
  • 3) Banking is all about client relationships and service so hone those skills to be the one people want to call to talk through an idea or ask for advice.
  • 4) Offer to help your colleagues or managers or lateral managers any chance you get. Your career path opens wider when more people know who you are and see your capabilities. A can-do attitude is always an asset!
  • 5) Research different institutions to explore what might be the best fit for you. Some offer many products and services while other focus on a niche clientele or specialized lending or service. Learn as much as you can about the firm’s culture and talk to people who work there to hear firsthand what it is like.

    The NC: Are you a planner or of the ‘go with the flow’ mentality?

    MB: I plan, so I can go with the flow. Planning helps me understand the milestones or get my bearings. The key is to know plans are always going to be broken!

    The NC: What was key in your journey to success?

    MB: Work hard - seriously, it takes a lot of commitment to be successful at anything you do.

    The NC: How did your career/life path change along the way?

    MB: When a bank I worked for was shrinking its footprint in the U.S. and closed our office, I was given a magical opportunity to run global training programs from home for 5 years. It gave me a chance to be around when my girls were teenagers and I got to travel the world several times a year. I was not on a typical manager path but used the time to hone my credit and presentation skills which were invaluable for the next chapter in my career.

    The NC: What advice would you have for young women today?

    MB: There are so many more distractions today with the internet and social media that I think it’s harder to go out and “do”. Try to limit the distractions in your life so you can be more focused on what really matters to you!