Jessica Seidlitz: A champion for diversity at Charles Schwab
Title: Managing director in the management initiatives office, Charles Schwab Investment Management
Home base: Denver
Mentor: Marie Chandoha, president and chief executive of Charles Schwab Investment Management
Tenure at Charles Schwab: Five years
What she does: Seidlitz leads board relations, learning and development, diversity initiatives and real estate operations and also supports Chandoha in various chief of staff activities.
Growth means opportunity: Seidlitz has a background as a certified public account and formerly audited mutual fund companies. She joined Charles Schwab Investment Management five years ago when the company was expanding in Denver and had an opening in the fund administration group. Since then she has had the chance to take on new challenges along the way. “We have had a ton of growth, and when there is growth, there is tons of opportunity,” she said.
See it to be it: One reason Seidlitz chose to join Schwab's investment management unit is because a woman, Chandoha, holds the top job. “Someone else walked those steps and was able to have that success,” Sedilitz said. “For me, as I was growing my career, that was inspiring to see.” She added that one of Chandoha’s signature phrases is, “You have to see it to be it.”
Driving diversity: In her role with the management initiatives office, Seidlitz leads the company’s diversity task force. She is also chief of staff to Chandoha. “There is no typical day,” Seidlitz said of her job.
“Depending on what initiatives, board meetings, or whatever we have going on, that drives my agenda.”
Initiative matters: To get her current job, Seidlitz did what she described as “one of the bravest things” she had ever done in her career — she raised her hand for an opportunity. It was years ago, and Seidlitz did not actually get the position she sought as Chandoha’s chief of staff at the time.
Fast forward a couple of years. "Marie and I were chatting," said Seidlitz, "and she said, ‘Do you remember that one time when you had asked me about being my chief of staff?’ And in my mind I am thinking, ‘Of course I remember that.’ It was something I would not forget. She shared that she now had a role and asked if I would be interested in it. And that’s the role I’m in today,” Seidlitz said.
Lasting impression: Chandoha was also impressed with Seidlitz’s willingness to go for the job. “She was not afraid to step out of her comfort zone to raise her hand for a position on my team. That took a lot of courage. It is so important for women to volunteer for more challenging assignments…That will open doors,” Chandoha said.
A way to connect: Chandoha has pushed for greater diversity in the asset management industry, something that Seidlitz wholeheartedly embraces. These efforts have included recruiting talented people and supporting them after they join, primarily through a women’s leadership program that brings female employees together periodically and gives them a chance to brainstorm and network.
“There’s just the sense of ensuring that we know each other, that women know each other. They can talk to each other, bounce ideas off each other,” Seidlitz said.
Mentorship in the moment: Seidlitz considers herself “pretty darn lucky” to be mentored by Chandoha. “Marie does a good job of providing advice in the moment. If we are in a meeting and we are connecting after that meeting, if there is something I could have done better or different or she wants to give me kudos, she does it immediately. I very much value that,” she said.