Volunteering to Lead: Kourtney Gibson

By UMAA

Volunteering to Lead: Kourtney Gibson

By UMAA

For the first time in University of Miami history, a majority of our volunteer leadership boards are led by women. 

UM Alumni Board of Directors President Kourtney Gibson, B.B.A. '03, shares insights from her successful career in finance and lessons learned as a woman in leadership. 

Gibson, Kourtney

Why did you decide to pursue a career in finance?

I love to say that I didn’t choose finance; finance chose me. When I was a teenager, my cousin founded an investment bank in Chicago. I’d spend my summers traveling from my hometown of Racine to Chicago to intern at his firm. During this time, I developed an insatiable appetite for the world of finance and wanted, in particular, to break ground as a woman in the industry. Now, I am President at that same firm, Loop Capital Markets, which is now one of the largest privately held investment banks and the largest minority or women-owned investment bank in the country. 

Define a great leader—what are some traits you think great leaders possess?

A great leader knows how to foster relationships with people. Relationships are key to the viability of any business. From knowing your staff on a level well enough to draw upon their individual strengths, or expanding your network of peers, relationships are the ties that bind a company to its bottom line and an individual to his or her goals.

How did you get to where you are? What has been the key to your success?

I’ve gotten where I am because I was given a chance; because someone believed in me enough to create opportunities for me, in turn giving me a pathway to success. The key to my success, however, has been intentional, hard work. Over the years, I’ve been sure to work diligently to go above and beyond my call of duty. In a marketplace that is saturated by incredible talent, I’ve been sure to work hard to stay up on industry trends, outwork the competition and innovate new lines of business for my firm.

What do you think are the most significant barriers to female leadership? How did you overcome them?

The most significant barriers to female leadership are not being considered as capable and/or authoritative as your male counterparts and making sure your voice is not only heard, but matters. The finance industry is male dominated. As a result, I find myself the only woman in many rooms in which I sit. I do not allow that, however, to quiet or mute my opinions and input. I am very proud to be a woman in this industry and I let my work, success and capabilities speak for themselves.

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

Mellody Hobson, President and Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, is undoubtedly one of the most influential people in my life. Though we’ve never worked for the same firm, her example of a woman, particularly a woman of color, in finance is unparalleled and over the years we’ve been able to cultivate a lovely relationship. For years, she has proven herself to be loyal and helpful to me, always being there when I’ve had questions, both personal and professional.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

As a child, I wanted to be a bilingual pediatrician with Spanish as my second language. I’ve always had a heart for children and loved how doctors help change the lives, or at the least bit, the day of little guys and girls on a regular basis.