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Janet Hanson, CEO : A Pioneering Entrepreneur, Connecting Extraordinary Women

By July 14, 2010November 26th, 2016One Comment

What is your name, age, and location?

Janet Hanson, age 57, home is in Bedford, NY. Offices are in Greenwich, CT.

What is your profession?

Founder & CEO of 85 Broads and lifelong “binge philanthropist.”

What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?

I majored in Government at Wheaton College (MA) and in Finance at Columbia Business School where I received my MBA.

What was your first job?

I ran the Pro Shop at St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. St. Andrew’s was founded in the 1800’s – it is the oldest men’s golf club in America. Working at St. Andrew’s was great preparation for working on Wall Street.

Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?

Felice Schwartz, the founder of Catalyst, really inspired me in my early years at Goldman Sachs. Felice broke a lot of china when she wrote her (brilliant) research on women on Wall Street, which was very edgy stuff. I then became my own lab rat – I founded 85 Broads because I wanted to live in a world where women were passionate about partnering with each other in their professional lives. Launched in 1997 with 30 former Goldman Sachs women professionals, 85 Broads is now a global network community of 25,000 amazing, trailblazing women worldwide. It has been a dazzling ride as I have literally met thousands of women who are using our network platform to launch their businesses and their careers in a way I never would have thought imaginable.

Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?

In the summer of 2005, I had 12 fabulous interns work with me in the 85 Broads “lab” to try to figure out why young women were so turned off to learning about investing. We came up with “Market Clout” which taught college women to “invest in what they love.” For instance, if you love Coach bags, buy the stock, not the handbag. If you love your iPod and have one in every color, make your next purchase 10 shares of Apple stock. We convinced a lot of college women to invest in brands they loved and trusted – which was incredibly exciting.

Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?

My “female intuition” helped me become one of the top salespeople at Goldman Sachs as I was very good at “reading” my clients and equally good at “reading” the folks on the trading desk. If you get that right consistently enough, you become key to the organization – which is exhilarating, particularly in a fast-paced, high-stakes, male-dominated industry.

Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?

I read my clients and the traders brilliantly but didn’t know how to “manage up” nearly as well. What worked for me on the sales desk repeatedly failed me at bonus time. Not surprising since I was the second woman hired in the Fixed Income Division so I had virtually no female role models to get advice/feedback from. That was why I was so passionate about launching 85 Broads as there just weren’t enough female role models in house — in essence, I created a way to “reattach” women who had left 85 Broad Street with women who were coming up through the ranks.

Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is my #1 role model and one of my dearest friends. Her courage and humor and intrepid spirit have inspired me over the years which is why I never gave up, despite a bout with breast and skin cancer and a husband of 21 years who left me because I was a “binge philanthropist” – a criticism which I now view as a compliment.

If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?

As you get older, life gets more expensive. Save as much money as early in life as possible and make it a lifelong habit. That way if the sh** hits the fan, you will have plenty of options.




– Interview by Elena Rossini


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