BABE #271: SHANDY THOMPSON - Financial Business Analyst, JPMorgan Chase
Shandy is a financial business analyst at JPMorgan Chase. After teaching herself how to code, learning the appropriate software and discovering a common error which led to saving the company over half a million dollars, her industry knowledge and professional success has continued to flourish. Shandy’s passion for making an impact goes behind the corporate world; this past year, she took a leap and ran for a seat on the Jacksonville City Council after seeing some serious needs in her community that weren’t being met. She’s a tech guru, a wife, a momma to two kiddos and one heck of a BWH who has conquered the unthinkable and continues to thrive.
Hometown: San Diego, California
Current city: Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Alma mater: University of North Florida
Degree: B.A. (Pending)
Very first job: Publix
Hustle: Financial Business Analyst, JPMorgan Chase
Babe you admire and why?
This is not an easy question. There are so many women I admire. I personally have a role model in different aspects of my life. Business, you could look at Sheryl Sandberg. I love a good no-bull power female. Politically, RBG, Susan Collins, Martha McSally, Elizabeth Warren and all of our newest ladies. I seriously welcome the fresh, young air in politics. I have even met some serious [local] role models over the last few years. To name drop: Dr. Georgette Dumont, Sandy Golding and Brittany Norris. Thanks, ladies for being such big assets for our beaches. One I have admired since high school: Angela Merkel. That’s a babe. She is the ultimate “Mutti.” The first female chancellor in Germany and admired worldwide. Not only is she crushing the political game, she’s brilliant. She holds a PhD in quantum chemistry. It’s so refreshing seeing scientist in politics. To see a woman that high up consistently outspoken on the care of others, the environment and global success is real babe-status.
How do you spend your free time?
With my loved ones or reading. This one is kind of boring, but free time is hard to find. Or maybe I make it hard? I have never been good with free time; I always feel there is something to do. Kids helped fill up that time.
Favorite fictional female character?
I have two: Velma from Scooby Doo and Miss Frizzle. Velma is always on her A-game, coming up with solutions and figuring out problems before they happen. Miss Frizzle—how can one not love her? She brought my interest to science at a young age. I haven’t stopped loving science since her.
Current power anthem?
Forever and always, “Bitch,” by Meredith Brooks.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Avocados. Seriously, ask my husband. We should really own an avocado farm.
What’s something you want to learn or master?
Fluency in another language. I am able to read, write and briefly (like, very briefly) converse in a few languages. Yet, fluently speaking is something I have always wanted to be able to do.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s cabinet pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. I want to thank her.
What’s something most don’t know about you?
My degree path was not finance, or even business. When I was in school I was looking to become a dietician. Science and the human body have forever been my favorite. I just so happen to love research, which is oddly what opened the door for my current path of employment.
Tell us about your hustle.
Besides the obvious of being a mom, I work within the IT side of finance. I deal with finance servers for JPMorgan Chase (Chase). I use SQL, business intelligence tools and other databases. I guess you could say I do know a foreign language, as I can communicate with computers. My job is to pull out data from our computers, interpret and present it to senior management.
What does your typical workday look like?
My day-to-day job changes. Never is one day the same as the other, unless I’m working on a major project. I work within the finance side of IT, yet my job role extends from IT work, finance management for the company as a whole, to department audit. My job varies depending which department within Chase I’m supporting. I have to be fluid and be able to switch gears pretty quickly, as each department has different financial needs and goals. Chase goes through multiple audits throughout the year, and I’m the head person for our audits. Whether it’s our yearly government audit or thorough internal audits, I’m the one who has to answer these questions. Audit is a love-hate part of my job. I love it because I get to look at our department from an outside perspective and help close any loopholes or possible problems—the tough part is coming up with the solutions to fix the problems.
When did you become interested in pursuing a career in finance?
To be honest, I didn’t think this was my calling; I thought my calling was in the medical field. Something about the human body and how we work is beautiful and so fascinating. I landed an admin job at Chase during my last year of my undergrad; at the time I was pursuing a dietician degree. When I went into this job I thought this would just be temporary to help pay for bills and have health insurance. We had our oldest child, and health insurance was necessary. Once I started, I quickly became attracted to the reporting side of banking. It was similar to working with Access and Excel in my research classes. Within a year or so at Chase, some personal things went down which forced me to take a break from schooling, and I [started] teaching myself how to code and use SQL and Oracle. During this time, I had a pretty amazing boss who loved the thought of having a reporting analyst on his team, so he fought for me to gain direct access to our servers. After a few months of playing around, reading books and some Google, I was full-on report writing for our underwriting department in Chase. I took on additional projects during this time to better understand the business and ended up finding a common error, leading to saving the company over half a million dollars that year. My doors opened up by receiving company-wide recognition and networking with the company.
What aspect of Chase’s company culture do you value most?
I cannot speak highly enough of Chase. In Jacksonville we employee almost 3,000 employees, and all jobs come with the option of a 401k and health insurance, even for our part-time staff. In Jacksonville in 2018, we volunteered over 157,000 hours and over a million dollars into the community. We sponsor community events and last year we provided four veterans with homes. Our CEO is big on work-life balance and mental health advocacy. We cover mental health costs in our insurance, which was pretty rare from what I have been told prior to the last couple of years. Those who know a bit of our family’s journey understand how important health care (and access to it) is. Oddly, the same time my husband was sick, so was our CEO. Our CEO the following year partnered with Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos to create a better solution for health care. I love working for a company that sees a need improvement and will try to partner to better everything. Since taking on the health initiative, Chase has done more for environmental factors and helped drive health down to each employee. Our Ohio location has a full garden where they obtain produce that is served on site; they also have a bee sanctuary. My department also echoes this. Our group has done random beach clean-ups, additional volunteer options and has been a major support for growth. Not only was my company from the top-down supportive of my political campaign (whether it was helping with volunteer hours, donations or even putting me in contact with elected officials), they went the extra mile in allowing me to run. They were also a major supporter when I needed to use leave to take care of my husband [when he was sick with cancer] in 2014 and again in 2018. To know a company as large as Chase has my back and will ensure I have a job when I return after dealing with my family’s needs speaks volumes.
What led you to decide to run for Jacksonville Beach City Council?
My curiosity began with local government when I bought my house, in 2009. We live in and area people still consider to be the “bad” area at the beach. Even with the stories and people advising me not to buy in here, I still wanted to. I love my neighborhood. I see such potential in our area. Over the years, I noticed some things that were being done in other parts of the beach—but also noticed our area was being overlooked. Once we had our first son in 2011, I started to attend meetings. I knew my local officials at that point and started then, with emails. In 2015, we had a random spurt of violence at the beach. I was pregnant and decided if this was where we were going to raise two kids, I needed to be involved. In 2015, I started to attend every meeting that was held at City Hall. During that time, builders were coming in and developing without caring about what their impact was on our neighborhood. I met so many angry residents in our district who were taking their complaints to City Hall and feeling left short. I ended up becoming close with our district representative at this time—he may regret giving me his phone number with how often I called him—which is where the conversation started about a run for district seat. Word spread pretty quickly that I wanted that seat to help drive a vision in our area. So, long story short—kids, passion and a question.
What advice would you give to a fellow babes looking to venture into politics?
Do it! Raising money sucks—like, really sucks. I hated asking for financial help. The reality is, it’s expensive to campaign; way more than I thought. My campaign experience was pleasant. I enjoyed going out and talking to people and hearing their concerns. It also let me evaluate and see if my concerns were truly the same as the rest of my district. Hearing my residents’ complaints and ideas, I knew I was on the right path, that I was doing this for the right reason. Besides the burden of financials, you really meet some of the most amazing people along the way. Some may not like you just because you are you, but those are few and far between. Just stay true to yourself and to your community—and practice public speaking.
Tell us about your blog, Inside and Out as a Thompson.
It actually started as a GoFundMe page. Typical health care scenario—well, kind of. We’re fortunate to have good (expensive) health insurance. However, we are not fortunate and hit the mark on having a rare cancer. My husband was diagnosed with an ependymoma, which is a brain tumor located on the brain stem in 2014. Less than .04 percent of adults are diagnosed with it. It’s most common in children, but rarely ever cancerous. Yet, his was. Even with his tumor not being considered aggressive, his came back within a year. His tumor is graded on a one to three scale, and the biopsy came back a three, making the odds of his tumor even more rare than the .04 percent. Our insurance didn’t want to pay for any of his bills due to nothing being approved by the FDA. Our first oncologist cried with us when it recurred and I remember sitting in his office getting the news. His heart sunk as heavy as mine did when he said, “I don’t know what to do.” The GoFundMe page quickly turned into a journey to document and keep up with what was happening. Sadly, we could not have had the positive outcome we did without reaching out.
How do you balance motherhood with your many professional demands?
Meal prep. Seriously. Having our meals planned out for the week and somewhat cooked makes our evenings that much easier—and days less hectic—when things are ready to go for the week. I’m also very lucky to have such an amazing husband. We are a partnership. I wouldn’t be this successful without him.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Being a woman in the workforce is hard. Not dismissing any dads here, either, but typically family needs gets thrown to mom first. There are a couple of things: one has to do with a macro level and the other is something that can be done on a micro level. Let’s start with the larger: Men deserve time off with their kids. When we start shifting our thought process so that mom is the “important” one and encourage men to spend time with their families, we’ll see a shift in how women are treated in the workforce. Now, the micro one: We as females really have to stop seeing other women as competition all the time. Even with friendships, women talk about how they find themselves competing against their best friend. From super-petty things, such as size of a diamond, home or even comparing happiness. We’re all in this together. Seriously. If you have a friend you think would do a better job in a position you’re looking at, tell her! You never know what that door will open for her (and quite possibly for you). Women don’t forget anything, ever. That friend, coworker, drunk girl in the bathroom will remember you and what you did for them. Put that positivity out there in the universe. You will be thanked later.
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
The gender ratio in my industry is changing. When I first started, it was definitely a male-dominated role. We are seeing a shift of more women getting into the world of financing and computers. I am proud to work with almost as many females as males in my department and surrounding departments. Now, it’s time to start working to get more senior-level female managers.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
There is a woman I met when I first started at Chase who has quickly moved up the ranks, named Thashunda Duckett. We connected when I had my first child, because she was going through the adoption process for her child. She is continuously doing outreach and looking for ways to better our business. She is now the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and a big face for our company. I also admire our female head of sales, Lisa Plaien. She has been a mentor without even knowing it. She is someone with whom I really enjoy working. She gets straight to business and is thorough with all of her work and expectations. You never leaving her corner office asking yourself, What did she mean by that? She’s someone you want to do the best for, because you know she’ll do the best for you. Bonus: she also dresses cute.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Life never goes as planned. Your dream career may actually be that job your friend is pushing you to apply for. Do it. Apply. Get out of your comfort zone. Network and talk to your boss about your career goals. Take on that additional learning course your company is offering. You never know who or where it will lead you to.