Meet SWIB Co-President, Cyerra Holmes
For our next feature, we sat down with another SWIB co-president, Cyerra Holmes, to hear about her experiences as a student here at Stanford and as a woman in business. She will be joining Goldman Sachs full-time after graduating this June.
Thinking back a few years, what led you to join SWIB?
At the conclusion of my freshmen year summer internship, one of the female Vice Presidents in the Engineering division handed me the book “Powering UP! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders” by Anne Doyle. As I was handed this book, I was told to not be dissuaded by the overwhelming number of male executives I would see as I climb the corporate ladder. In this book, Doyle explains some of the reasons why women are few in leadership positions in major corporations and how women achievers of all ages can begin to step up and more importantly work together to become leaders. My summer internship experience and that moment motivated me to join SWIB when I returned to campus for my sophomore year. I wanted to meet and learn alongside other like-minded individuals who had an interest in business. SWIB was impacting the lives of its members and the community through events, conferences and networking activities. I yearned to work with the future CEOs, Managing Directors and powerful women leaders to learn how I could “power up” to help organize efforts that make an impact.
What are some unconventional skills that you've gained from SWIB?
In my past two summer internships, we had countless networking events where the onus was on us to approach and engage in conversations with individuals we did not know, ranging from Partners at the firm to other interns. At times, it definitely would have been easier and more comfortable to be a wallflower. However, not until attending these events with a room full of initial strangers did I realize that SWIB had given me the confidence to walk up to anyone, regardless of title, and feel comfortable striking up a conversation. Through working with industry professionals, alumni, and students of all ages, SWIB exposes you to such a diverse group of individuals. From interacting with these individuals at our company crawls, networking receptions, and leadership team meetings, one cannot help but develop confidence in interacting with individuals in a variety of business settings.
What's changed most about you (professionally and personally) since your earlier years at Stanford?
What has most changed about me professionally and personally is my ability to communicate effectively and powerfully in non face-to-face settings. My time in SWIB has enabled me to build relationships with Managing Directors at finance firms, founders of some of the most exciting start-ups in Silicon Valley, senior leaders at Fortune 100 technology companies, and more. The vast majority of these relationships started with me crafting one carefully worded e-mail. Crafting a message through e-mail that conveys one’s goal and tone is one of the most valuable and underrated professional skills that we will all need to master if we want to succeed in the world of business. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to hone this skill in SWIB.
Words of wisdom for our underclassmen?
Develop the necessary skills to succeed in what you want to do, but ultimately do what you enjoy. I have discovered that you will be happiest in classes, activities, organizations, and internships where you are truly excited and passionate.
#1 SWIB moment?
Traveling to the Intercollegiate Business Convention at Harvard University with six members of SWIB in October was an experience I will never forget. This year, we set a goal for SWIB to create a strong national network of collegiate women leaders that would transcend the mere geographies of our college campuses. To achieve this lofty goal, for the first-time as an organization, we raised money from various corporations and received enough funding to travel as a group to this Business Conference. Not only did this experience further our goal by allowing us to network with other collegiate women leaders at over 50 universities, but it also resulted in 48 hours of lasting memories among the seven of us SWIB members who undoubtedly became closer during this trip.
#1 interview tip?
Before all interviews, I conduct mock interviews with myself using iMovie. For nearly every job interview, you can compile a list of frequently asked questions from Glassdoor. I ask myself these questions and film my response. It may sound strange at first, but in watching my filmed interview, I have learned so much about how to pitch myself and am able to critique myself in real-time. I notice when I am talking too fast, trailing off, and sounding monotone or when a story I am telling was not as eloquent as I intended. This has been instrumental in my interview preparation and has allowed me to feel significantly more confident during my interviews.
What was your personal journey in choosing your major?
I chose Science, Technology, and Society (STS) because it allows me to combine my varied interests ranging from engineering to marketing, finance to entrepreneurship, and more. My diverse STS coursework has enabled me to create a business plan for a viable start-up in the course of ten weeks, conduct in-depth financial analysis of a retail company to determine ways they can capture more market share, and work on a team comprised of students at the Grenoble School of Management in France to learn about the challenges of global work. STS is allowing me to develop an inter-disciplinary approach to problem solving and it is exciting to see this way of thinking carry over into my professional experiences.
What was your personal journey in choosing your industry of choice? Do you see that changing later?
During my freshman summer, I worked for AT&T and rode the train from the Dallas headquarters to my home every day. To pass the time on the ride, I began reading my younger brother’s Investing 101 book. He caught the investing bug much earlier than I did, so my journey into finance began because I was wondering what was so engrossing my 15 year old little brother. Since picking up this book, I have not put it down. I spent my past two summers at Goldman Sachs in Private Wealth Management (PWM) and am excited to return full-time! I love PWM given it is driven by both the ever-evolving financial markets and complex asset allocations for diverse clients, but also rooted in developing client relationships (I love talking to people). I didn’t realize it was possible to learn so much about investing, professionalism, and more in a ten week internship and given this, I am excited to see what my career holds at the firm.