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Lucille Protas, Top Women in Asset Management Awards winner

Lucille Protas began her career with Mackay Shields as an investment management assistant when she was just 19 years old. Forty-six years later, she is president, executive managing director and COO.

When she was first hired, Protas says, “I knew nothing about the securities markets, let alone what a research analyst did. I hunkered down, worked hard, asked a countless number of questions and read everything I could get my hands on.”

Over the years, she gained a deep knowledge about the business side of asset management, with help from mentors including a superior at the firm who, she says, “taught me invaluable lessons about attention to detail, organizational skills and managing to a bottom line.”

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Protas graduated from that first role to senior analyst, then treasurer, chief administrative officer and COO, a title she has held since 2007.

Not all of her professional relationships have been easy. Around 20 years ago, a senior executive she was working with on a project “believed that women should be at home rather than in the business world.” In spite of his condescending attitude, Protas says, she completed the project on time and to his satisfaction. However, the day the results were presented, the executive asked her to “mind the shop” instead of joining the meeting.

Protas nearly resigned, but stopped herself. “I had succeeded at a very difficult task, and I would not let him rob me of that success,” she recalls.

Even at her level, Protas says she is often the only woman at the table. “But I’m aware that there have been many advances for women,” she adds, “and we now have the opportunity to build on our success and promote further change.”

When she’s not at the office, Protas mentors other women in programs including Girls with Goals, Women in Investment Management and Women in Research. She is also a board member for the Make-A-Wish organization.

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