By: De’Juan Galloway
Jerry McMillan is a director in Global Markets Operations at Deutsche Bank. Having begun his career in finance at Lehman Brothers, he moved on to Goldman Sachs before assuming his current position. He has climbed the corporate ladder and established himself as a premiere talent on Wall Street. Yet these accomplishments do not solely define his resume, as it is his dedication to mentoring that illustrates McMillan’s true impact. He began mentoring young talent to address an issue that he saw as a problem: the lack of minorities in finance. “I noticed when I walked on the trading floor of Lehman Brothers that there were about 650 people and very few minorities,” he said. “It was at that point I began to think about my commitment to help young minorities navigate through the financial industry.” This observation coupled with the idea that “to whom much is given, much is expected,” led McMillan to identify junior talent and oversee them until they managed to reach the executive ranks; a feat he has accomplished.
What’s his formula? He urges students to identify their natural gifts, find which roles best utilize those gifts and set goals that have nothing to do with money. He believes that students in junior high and high school feel invincible. Consequently, that feeling of “invincibility” can be translated into a strong belief system about how they think about their lives. He considers that period to be an opportunistic time in one’s life; a time in which they can be introduced to an industry, have their skill set evaluated and use that belief system as a foundation to build a career aligned with their skill set, passion and advancement opportunities. “Once they set their mind to something, they put their whole heart into it and you cannot convince them that they will not accomplish their goals”, he said. “I’ve noticed that college graduates are more mature in their approach and they’re likely to over rationalize the objectives you set out for them.”
McMillan’s efforts and investments are noted not only by his mentees but also his colleagues. “His stake in the lives of young minorities isn’t about personal gains or accolades,” says McMillan’s former Goldman Sachs colleague and CEO of Stufund Holdings, Sergio Sotolongo. McMillan’s self-assuredness aside, he emphasizes an “each one, teach one” approach in his overarching mission. He approaches developing young minds with the understanding that his investment in those lives will be far reaching; consequently impacting the young lives his mentees will one day touch. This is exemplified on the impact he has had on his nephew, Lamont McMillan.
Jerry McMillan is to Lamont McMillan what Andre Harrell was to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. The story of McMillan mentoring his nephew dates back to Lamont as a ten year old talented math student. Upon observing Lamont’s above average skill set, Jerry invited him to hone those skills and educated himself on the risks that drive markets. This would eventually enable him to compete in the world of finance. Lamont sacrificed video games for after school tutorials on Wall Street at Jacobson Capital Partners, but these early visits were not without reward. Years later, owner Paul Jacobson took on an executive role at Deutsche Bank, where he brought Lamont on board as a Colorado College alumnus to continue his development.
When asked to pinpoint the most important lesson he has taken from Jerry, Lamont asserts: “You are subject to the choices you make. You can choose to work hard and reap the benefits or you can choose not to take things seriously and face hardships.” This lesson has unquestionably been paramount in the manner in which he has approached his work. At the age of 24, he became one of the first African-Americans to be selected for Deutsche Bank’s Long Bond team and is currently a Director.
At age 29, Lamont is a rising star in the Fixed-Income Division. Day-to-day, he uses his understanding of bond market risk metrics to manage a multi-billion dollar portfolio. Additionally, this year he was named one of Black Enterprise’s Next 40 under 40. Lamont’s work not only involves analyzing economic data in preparation for the opening bell or taking risks as the markets move, but also lending a hand to mentor youth using the proven formulas from his uncle’s playbook.
Jerry McMillan hopes that mentorship becomes a natural extension of the lives of so many who have their inspiration to offer: “”What would happen if every accomplished black doctor, lawyer, investment banker, and all other professionals of color made a commitment to identify a dozen African-American youths, introduce them to their respective professions and give them their support with a goal of ensuring they reach the VP level and beyond,” he asked. The answer, he hopes, would manifest itself in the near future.