Women in Capital Markets: Deb Schoneman

To celebrate Women’s History Month, SIFMA sought to spotlight several of its female board members. In this edition, we spotlight Deb Schoneman, President of Piper Sandler. We discuss how women have lifted her up throughout her career, her philosophies on leadership, and women’s empowerment.

How would you describe your role and responsibilities at Piper Sandler?

As the President of Piper Sandler, I am responsible for the success and growth of the overall firm as well as creating rewarding careers for our employees. I am directly responsible for our Equities and Fixed Income institutional brokerage businesses as well as our Public Finance business.

When did you decide to pursue a career in financial services?

I would say that a financial services career found me, rather than me pursuing it. I was fortunate to have an internship at Piper Sandler 31 years ago and I didn’t really know much about the financial services industry at the time. But I fell in love with the dynamic nature of the business and the people – who were incredibly smart, passionate about serving clients, and super hard working – and 31 years later I am still here and loving every minute of it.

Who is one of the biggest influencers/mentors in your life and career? Why?

There have been many, but they all had one thing in common, they saw more in me than I saw in myself and pushed me out of my comfort zone often. They gave me opportunities to step into roles that challenged me and helped me grow. They were true sponsors for me.

What was your experience as a woman in financial services at the beginning of your career and how has it changed over time?

Many would probably expect that I would answer this question from the perspective of how the external world treated me, but my experience as a woman in financial services was honestly more shaped by what I was thinking internally.

By being self-reflective over time (with the help of awesome coaches and co-workers), I came to realize that I lacked confidence and was trying to show up in a way that I thought would be more accepted by the world around me (e.g., no-nonsense, uber-confident, all business), but that didn’t reflect who I was. But by making a conscious choice to be more authentic and lead in a way that was natural for me, I saw significantly more positive outcomes and more success in my career, which has turn increased my confidence. It was a fly-wheel.

What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

Successful leaders today practice humility, are self-aware of the impact they have on others and are authentic. They also have a strategic mindset informed by sincerely listening to others, and they are agile given the dynamic world we live in.

What book(s) can you recommend focused on being an impactful leader?

Primal Leadership – Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, and Richard Boyatzis. We often speak of powerful leaders as being effective at strategy, vision and powerful ideas, and while true, great leadership works through the emotions.

We thank Deb for her service on SIFMA’s Board and remain humbled by her leadership, achievements, and kind spirit. It was a pleasure to speak with her as part of this series and collaborate with her as an organization.

To learn more about SIFMA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts, visit sifma.org/diversity.