Katelyn Rogers, Capital Group

Working a full-time job and pursuing a master’s degree at the same time may seem impossible to most people, but for Katelyn Rogers, 26, it’s just a typical day in the life. As a Fixed Income Trading Associate (think: bonds) at the Capital Group, Katelyn balances a rigorous business career by day with MBA classes at night.

Katelyn knew she always had an interest in the business world, but didn’t exactly know what to do with it. Following her mom’s suggestion of applying to a temp agency, she landed a job at Capital Group and has been there ever since. A position as an assistant in the Fixed Income Trading Room opened up and, without knowing exactly what it entailed, she applied, taking her own advice of “fake it till you make it.” By being a hard worker and remaining trustworthy, Katelyn was able to move her way up the ladder and finally land a position as a Trading Associate.

Now, Katelyn works in a structured environment that encourages collaboration between its employees, two qualities she finds essential to a fulfilling career. Her days may start at four in the morning and end at ten at night, but it’s all worth it for Katelyn. She’s just taking it one day at a time and looking forward to where her career might take her.

Her Starting Point

Many people find the transition between college and “real life” a bit daunting. Can you tell us about your journey between the two? What was your first job post-college?

Daunting is an understatement. I graduated from college in 2009 with no idea who or what I wanted to be when I grew up. My mom suggested that I apply at a temp agency, thinking that odd jobs could help me figure out what really interested me. So I did, and, lo and behold, Capital Group was my first assignment. At first, I worked in operations and found a mentor who will always be near and dear to my heart. She was my own personal guru, prepping me for interviews and scoping the company for potential jobs that would fit my jive. There was an opening in the Fixed Income Trading Room (I had to google what Fixed Income was before the interview) as a Trading Assistant and I wanted it. The loud, dynamic and ever-changing environment got my heart pumping, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the team. This was the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door and grow into what I do today.

Business is a very dynamic career. What sparked your interest in this field? When did you feel like this was the right path for you?

I graduated with a Business Economics degree and am currently getting my MBA, so I guess I can say that I’ve always had a spark of interest in the business field. Looking back, I think I always knew I would end up in Corporate America. I like structure, but I also enjoy the ability to express my opinion, make change happen and be a part of the bigger picture. However, I have recently been exploring ideas of starting my own business on the side. I jot down every idea that comes to my mind, but usually the day ends with me crossing them off of my list. We will see where this path takes me, but for now I know I am happy where I am.

What do you love most about working at Capital Group? What is the company culture like?

Capital Group’s company culture is built upon collaboration, integrity, rigorous analysis, accountability and much more. It’s an environment where ideas can flourish and it’s a perfect spot for me. I work with a great group of people and we have worked together for so long that it seems like we can anticipate each other’s next move. Although the company has been around for about 100 years, it still has the ability to adapt to the changing times. Right now my office is under construction to create a space that fosters more collaboration, which is exciting and I can’t wait for it to be done. Capital also is very supportive of my decision to pursue my MBA. It makes life less stressful because everyone is on the same page.

How has your college degree prepared you for your current endeavors? Do you recommend that people interested in business embark on a streamlined path or explore a little more?

I am a big believer in learning by doing. However, I do feel that my degree gave me the foundation to pursue my career. It helped fine-tune my mathematical and analytical skills, and I also got a taste of working in high-stress situations, which is what my job consists of now. I think it also opened the door for me to get an interview for the position at Capital. I learned most of what I do from my colleagues, by talking to brokers and actually executing trades. I can read until I’m blue in the face, but I need to actually do it to truly make it click.

Her Big Break

How do you stay organized? What tools/resources do you utilize (i.e. iPhone, apps, etc.)? What skills are essential to do your job well?

I’m not organized. I try to be, but I’m more of an organized chaos type of person. For example, I know exactly where all of my notes for school are, and I can tell you their exact locations; however, they may or may not be loose in my school bag or in a pile in my car. I try to use my iPhone calendar to keep up-to-date with my events, but sometimes having everything written down stresses me out even more. Out of sight, out of mind. This works for me. I keep everything crammed in my brain and haven’t let people down or missed any obligations…yet. 

If we had the chance to peek at your schedule, what would an average day look like?

This may scare a few…

4:00 a.m.: Wake up and take my dog Summer for a walk. I basically have to drag her out of bed every morning.

5:00 a.m.: Arrive at my desk with a coffee in my hand and start reading morning updates about what happened overnight. Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Bloomberg—oh my!

8:00 a.m.: Morning meeting in the trading room. My desk is in an open area, so there is constant dialogue among the other traders as well as the analysts and portfolio managers who make the investing decisions.

10:00 a.m.: Lunchtime! Yes, I eat lunch that early. I never thought that I could eat tacos at 10:00 a.m., but I definitely can. One perk of my job is that we get lunch catered in four days a week. It makes planning my meals exponentially easier.

12:00 pm.: Attend a sector meeting with the traders, analysts and portfolio managers who cover Treasuries and Mortgages. We listen to each other’s ideas and foster dialogue for investment decisions.

2:00 p.m.: Coordinate with the operations teams to verify that all trades are confirmed and there were no errors.

3:00 p.m.: Head to the gym, where I try to do cardio and a Tone It Up exercise routine. On a good day I’ll make it to my favorite Cardio Barre Class.

6:00 p.m.: Arrive at school for a riveting lecture where I typically have to pinch myself to stay awake.

10:00 p.m.: Finally home with Summer and ready to pass out for everything to start back again tomorrow.

I have class two days a week, so on my off days I try to squeeze in a wine night, dinner or a long walk with my girl, Summer.

What is the most challenging part of your job? How do you keep yourself from getting burnt out?

My position is all about being a self-starter. Yes, orders come to the desk and I execute them, but to really get a feel for the market I have to constantly read, talk to people and ask questions. It’s also a new position at Capital, so there really isn’t a guidebook. Being a Trading Associate equates to Junior Trader, so I help the senior traders with trades, but also follow my own market and try to generate views.

Her Perspective

What skills are essential to working in business? Do you think having an industry niche is important?

It may sound cliché, but being a hard and dependable worker will get you far. I learned that when people can trust you, you eventually get more responsibility and have the ability to shine. My mentor told me: “Do your job well, and new opportunities will come to you.” And guess what, it happened! Communication and people skills are vital. You have to be able to express your ideas and convey confidence. Fake it till you make it. When I first started I didn’t know the difference between a bond and a share, but I asked questions and talked to people about it, and it clicked. Lastly, you have to be trustworthy. No one wants to do business with a liar. If you make a mistake, own it and work harder so that it doesn’t happen again.

Translating passion into a career is tough. What advice would you give to women trying to figure this out?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it all out. I know I have a passion for strategic thinking and numbers and I am happy where I am now. It’s funny, but while pursuing my MBA I realized that I am in the right field. When I first started school, I opened my mind and took the ordinary classes like operations and marketing, but I never felt the passion that I feel when I take a finance class. I enjoy reading about what is happening around the world. I like the cause and effect that takes place when events happen globally and I try to solve the puzzle before others do.

Work hours can be stressful. How do you keep yourself balanced throughout the day? Are there any routines that get you jazzed for the day?

need to exercise. You don’t want to talk to me if I don’t get to blow off some steam. Exercising also is a great way to split my school and work life and it’s really important for my work/life balance. Hanging out with friends and staying social very important, too. I love cooking dinner, reading my favorite blogs and lounging. It’s a great way to wind down. Summer also keeps me levelheaded. All she needs is a good rub and love and she’s happy. I try and learn from her.

Staying innovative and fresh in the business realm is a challenge. Where do you find your inspiration, and how do you separate yourself from other firms? 

Hiring fresh talent is very important to Capital. New ideas and new ways of thinking are what make us stand out from other firms. Like I said before, Capital has been around forever, but still has the ability to change and adapt. It also is inspiring that I sit with people who have worked at Capital for twenty, thirty, even forty years. It is a place where you can find your passion in a career and basically stay forever (and be happy and fulfilled).

And finally, what do you wake up looking forward to? What’s next for your career?

I wake up looking forward to working with people who inspire me and make me want to work harder. I used to be a planner, but realized that it is impossible to plan life. So, I try to take one day at a time because I don’t know what new opportunity will show up in my path. I don’t know what is next for my career, but I do know that I will finish school next year and I will work my butt off in my current role at Capital.

Career Contessa Interview, Katelyn Rogers, Capital Group