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Product Manager, Digital Accounts
When she was searching for jobs during college, Vinchessica Gray decided to take a chance. Throughout her college career, she'd focused on a few companies that seemed to fit perfectly into her major. But when it came time to apply, she decided to reach out of her comfort zone—unsure, in some cases, if the companies were actually interested in students from her major, industrial engineering technology.
A few weeks later, when she received a call from a JPMorgan Chase recruiter, she debated whether or not to pursue it further. Students in her major tended to work in manufacturing, not banking. Still, she decided to go through the interview process, figuring that, if it didn't work out, she could always choose a more typical career path. Seven years later, she's still working at JPMorgan Chase's Columbus, Ohio office.
What does success look like to you?
I think success is relative to the moment. For instance, if we're talking about the music that I write, my success is being able to release my song. If we're talking about my family, it's being present in the moments that we share. If we're talking about work, it's about working with my coworkers to accomplish something that seemed impossible. Overall, I look at myself holistically, not only as an artist or a daughter or as a technologist. When I can find moments where all those worlds intersect and I feel like I am accomplishing things in them, that's my success.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Aside from my faith, my parents are definitely the biggest influence in my life. They equipped my sisters and me with so many life skills and so much wisdom, and ensured that we were exposed to different opportunities. They each had a focus —my Dad is a pastor, so he ensured we were good on the faith side, while my mom focused on our education—but they worked together as a unit to make sure we were prepared for life.
Throughout my childhood, my mom was always looking for opportunities for us. She enrolled us in various summer camps: faith based, trade school, science camp, reading camp, music camp, STEM camp. If there was a camp, we were definitely going to be first on the list.
My parents were pioneers in their own right. They worked with other parents to demand the best from our schools. And every time they found an opportunity for us, they would always get other kids from our community involved in it, too. As far as they were concerned, "no" was not an acceptable answer when it came to their children. If someone said "no" to them, they said, "OK, we will figure out a different way."
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
The person who gives me the best advice is my mentor here at JPMorgan Chase, Acton Archie. Sometimes, people will notice that you have a certain skill, and will tell you that you will be great for a certain role, and you want to believe it. But I realized at some point there was a disconnect between the roles people would suggest for me and what I actually wanted to do.
Acton taught me to take control of my career. He told me to step back and understand who I want to be in the world. He pushed me to see myself holistically, to understand my values and the things that motivate me, and frame my decisions based on that. So, if someone asks me to take on a role, I now ask myself how that work fits with all of me—my complete self--and who I want to be in the world.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
I sometimes deal with imposter syndrome—the feeling that I don't belong in the spaces I'm qualified to be in. It's a reoccurring obstacle and I have had to learn to accept my abilities and also give myself the grace to learn new things. It's about knowing who I am—and owning that.
I have become much better at taking ownership of myself, my actions, and my voice. Even when I have to stand alone, I am confident, because I know my purpose, and understand that it may sometimes require me to stand out and share an unpopular opinion. But that is how gainful progress is made—it only happens through diversity of thought and experience.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
I love working at home, but I'm a people person, and I miss the in-person engagement of the office. I also miss the exercise—the building I work in is roughly the size of the Empire State Building, turned on its side. Just getting to and coming from my office every day, I get a few thousands steps. Add in an occasional walking meeting, and I'm sometimes over 10,000 steps before I even get home.