Whether working as a trader or a reporter for the FOX Business Network, Chicago born Sandra Smith has always known how to set a goal and achieve it. For years, she split her time reporting from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the New York Stock Exchange. However in a few weeks she’ll be living full time in Chicago. She spoke with Our Town about her experiences as a woman in the financial industry, her leap to reporting and how running track and trading aren’t as different as one might think.
Our Town What led you to become a trader?
Sandra Smith Early exposure to the financial industry and an aptitude for math. I worked for my father, then a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange when I was in high school and college and got a head start understanding the ins and outs of trading. While studying at LSU, I excelled in mathematics and found I had a true calling for working in finance. After graduating, I worked to become officially licensed as a professional trader. The transition was a natural and smooth one.
OT As a woman, what's your experience as a trader been like?
SS In what has traditionally been a very male dominated environment, I have always felt very comfortable sitting on a trade desk or walking on a trading floor. When my dad introduced me to the financial markets at an early age, he never made a distinction between male or female, it was always about knowing your stuff. Math, charts, history of the markets, etc. For the same reason I loved running track at LSU, I love trading: nothing is subjective. In track there is a start line and a finish line. Whoever gets there first, wins. In trading, whoever buys and sells at the best price wins. Male or female.
OT Speaking of running, what role have sports played in your career?
SS Running track at LSU was instrumental in pushing me to test my limits. As an athlete one must set goals, work toward them, and when reached, strive to push past them. There were races in college when I shocked myself at what my body was capable of doing, the speed at which I was able to run. Because of that, I never rule anything out in my career. You never know how far you can go until you push yourself.
OT Any advice for other women interested in going into trading?
SS The industry has changed significantly in recent years, but the basics are still the same. Do your homework, know your goals, and find an edge. But edges don't last very long. Be willing to adapt to the environment.
OT What was it like to make the leap from trading to reporting?
SS It was a huge decision and not an easy one. I was experiencing a lot of success. But the opportunity to become a television business journalist [allowed me] to leverage everything I had learned and the contacts I had developed for the benefit of a larger audience. I was able to bring something very different to the table: real world experience.
OT What's the biggest misconception people have about reporting?
SS That we are reading a teleprompter. Like trading, I am required to use my expertise to analyze and react to quick moving markets and news in real-time.
OT What's next for you?
SS I dream big. Stay tuned.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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