Women's Network

Chicago Booth Alumni Special Interest Group


Joanie Stringer, ’02

Joanie Stringer, ’02 graduate, and Senior Vice President at Northern Trust was showcased as one of the “Top 20 Professionals under 40 in Miami” for Brickell magazine in May 2015.  In talking with Joanie, we learned about her professional experiences and the intraprenuership that continues to drive her professional growth.

Joanie, congratulations on your recent professional award.  They mentioned you work at Northern Trust, for a bit of background, how long have you been working there?  

17 years now, I had an anniversary on July 13th, I started right after graduating from undergrad. I worked for about a year and then enrolled in the Booth evening program.  I get eager for change sometimes, and thought part-time was a great opportunity to continue working while growing my investment management knowledge.  After two years in the evening, I transferred to full-time for my last year graduating in 2002. I used this as a chance to study abroad at the London School of Economics. While I remained at Northern Trust, getting my Booth MBA was a way for me to develop my education, network and hone some of my entrepreneurial skills.

That’s interesting you say entrepreneurial skills. Most people don’t associate those with established corporate companies. How have you used these at Northern Trust?

So many ways. I realize it’s not exactly entrepreneurship but let’s use the word intrapreneurship - innovation and growth within a pre-established company.  Participating in the New Venture Challenge at Booth was a great learning experience, and development of a strong business case for potential or proposed opportunities is one I continue to use every year, and one I’ve recently engaged our company in using.

In 2007, I started a business plan competition within Northern Trust for younger employees to present personal, innovative ideas to senior management.  It’s continued to grow and now we have hundreds of people invested in growing Northern Trust. 

That’s a great initiative to start for the company. Looking for growth opportunities and getting younger employees invested.  You mentioned starting the challenge in 2007, what kept you engaged as a younger professional in the company?

After graduating Booth, I was looking for development opportunities, ways to use the new skills I developed within Northern Trust. I started reaching out to my work network and volunteered to help write a business case for opening a new office in New York. This was a great opportunity for me professionally; to use the skills Booth taught me, grow my network within the company and support building new marketplace presence.  I’ve enjoyed this experience so much, and I have been able to help Northern Trust open 7 new offices around the world including Stockholm, New York, Boston, Greenwich and Washington D.C.

Wow – Seven new offices, have you moved to each?  That’s a lot of change.  How do you personally handle the change?

I like change, I see it as a great opportunity and seek it out. It’s a chance for me to grow, develop, and not get bored. I appreciate new challenges, they benefit both me and the company. In some ways, I see it like solving a puzzle – putting all the pieces together.  I would encourage women professionals to not be afraid of taking risks, moving and stepping out of their comfort zone. It will help you personally grow and possibly reap some unseen benefits.

Very brave of you, and smart.  I think many people look for change and development throughout their career and choose an “easy” answer of looking for a different job or company. You’ve stayed at the same company for 17 years – what’s kept you there?

A variety of things.  First, the opportunities that I mentioned, starting new offices.  These opportunities weren’t exactly presented to me, but ones I sought out and volunteered for to continue my development.  Secondly, the culture and the people. Northern Trust was founded in the US by a family in 1889.  Even after its growth to a large financial institution, it still feels like a ‘boutique’ family office.  It’s amazing how many of my coworkers have been working here for 30 or 40 years.  When students or professionals are looking at a job change to a new company, I’d encourage them to look at the tenure of employees who work at that company.  It says something about the culture of the company – keeping employees engaged and developing themselves where they’re presently working.

I never thought about that – great idea.  Thanks for your time today, you’re inspiring me to take on a bit more ‘intraprenuership’!

Enjoy what you do, it makes a difference both personally and professionally!

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