June 2020 Member Spotlight

Raisa Barkaloff, CIMA

Vice President
Federated Hermes

My first job in the retirement industry was … at State Street in Boston in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. I initially worked on the pricing of retirement plans and moved up to be a Client Service Officer, working with plan administrators and recordkeepers. When I started with my current firm in 2004, I focused on Managed Accounts but I recently also joined the retirement team at Federated Hermes. I manage our internal group and I am very happy to be learning the retirement side of the business from the perspective of an investment management company.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Is WiPN a force for change? Since women make up such a small percentage of people in the financial services industry overall, it’s vital for us to work together. WiPN allows us to connect and collaborate. At this stage of my career, I can benefit from mentoring, and I can also provide guidance to people newer to the industry, and I love that WiPN provides the framework for mutual support.

I first learned about WiPN … when I joined the retirement team at Federated Hermes. As a firm, we have long been supporters of the organization and I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about it. I’ve been to a number of events around the country, and I always find the other members to be inclusive and positive, and the events to be meaningful.  WiPN has really helped me to make connections in the retirement world, and to inspire me to help other women in the industry.

What has been your most rewarding accomplishment in your career? I’m really proud of setting up the Pittsburgh chapter of WiPN. In 2011, I moved to Pittsburgh, and I’ve been really happy with my experience here. I’m looking forward to helping other local women make connections and advance their careers.

My favorite quote is … It’s not a quote per se, but I love the saying “Empowered women empower women” because it encourages me to think about my role in helping others succeed, and it reflects the underlying tenet of WiPN.

Raisa Barkaloof

Megan Ekleberry

Vice President
American Century Investments

I love the retirement industry because … on a daily basis, I know that I am potentially impacting the futures of many people, by encouraging them save, protecting them from making untimely decisions and helping them to create wealth over time. I truly believe that you create your own destiny and working in this industry allows me to do that.  I value the partnerships I have created over time, and continually strive to bring better information and ideas to my clients helping them stand out in a competitive environment.

Prior to joining WiPN, how difficult or easy was it to find networking/mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry?  That is why I am really excited to be a part of the new WiPN Pittsburgh Chapter. While we have some great networking organizations in the area, I often find myself being one of the only females at the events.  I am looking forward to connecting with like-minded women in the industry to share experiences, challenges, and learn new ways to grow my career.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Is WiPN a force for change?  Absolutely!  If there is one thing that I would like to see change throughout my career it would be to have more women in the industry.  I often hear from hiring managers that they would like to see more female candidates but the applicants just aren’t there. We are competitive, driven and have the ability to really get to know and understand our clients. I think it’s our duty to spread the word on how rewarding a career in the industry can be. I often meet with my clients high school and college-aged daughters to share a “day in the life” and most of the time, they say that they never knew it was out there or that they wouldn’t know how to break in.  WIPN can absolutely be a force for change through mentoring and engaging younger generations.

I first learned about WiPN … through my DCIO counterparts in Upstate New York. I was invited to sponsor a breakfast meeting and was really intrigued by a few things. The breakfast event was very well attended – I could tell that time and effort were involved in the preparation for the event.  It was attended by a diverse group of women across the industry, many of whom I had not met before.  And lastly, it was an interesting speaker topic – non-business related but relevant to our careers.

My favorite quote is … “There are two things that you can control in this business – Attitude and Activity.”  A manager once said this to me early on in my career and I truly believe it, especially in the current environment.  Regardless of what might be happening in the market, in the world, and even in your personal life, if you show up every day with a positive attitude and have a high amount of activity you will be successful.

Megan Ekleberry

Ekaterina Sheliga

Director of Institutional Sales
The Standard

I love the retirement industry because … I believe in the overarching mission of our industry to help people retire with dignity and with ASPIRATION for what the golden years are supposed to be!

How do you see WiPN affecting positive change in your career or industry? WiPN is a network of “super-connector” women who all work together to propel the careers of women and pave the way for future generations of women to be successful in the retirement plan industry. An organization like WiPN is essential to equalize the current male-dominated playing field and support all members as mentors or mentees, wherever they are in their careers, in reaching new heights.

Prior to joining WiPN, how difficult or easy was it to find networking/mentoring opportunities in the retirement industry? Networking is easy, but networking with successful women in a safe space, is a challenge in the retirement plan industry – WiPN offers that networking/mentoring ability to its members in a fun, collaborative and effective way.

How important is it for you to be a role model for the upcoming generations of women in the retirement industry? Is WiPN a force for change? Being a role model is extremely important to me as I would not have gotten to where I am today without the help of my role models. WiPN is 110% of the driving force for change and improvement in this industry.

My favorite quote is  by Dolly Parton,“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails” because it couldn’t be more true and applicable to life. For me it means being able to pivot and adjust your life to the current ever-changing environment, and professionally, being able to change strategic direction to accommodate the marketplace and be able to sail on your way through this beautiful life, no matter what direction the wind blows your way!

Ekaterina Sheliga