Not everyone who works in financial services joined with industry connections in hand, says Michelle Mikos, the ETF business development director at Invesco Powershares. "I was certainly in that camp, coming from a more blue collar family," Mikos, 32, recalls.

Mikos's experiences prompted her to involve outreach efforts in her work.

Since joining PowerShares in April 2006, Mikos has supported her firm's broker/dealer ETF investment research analysts, product managers, and due diligence groups, while also working with the firm's up-and-coming talent.

Mikos also teaches college students about the asset management industry at schools like Wheaton College, the College of DuPage and Notre Dame, where she graduated cum laude from the Mendoza College of Business.

"Through our own internship program at Invesco PowerShares, we are just trying to reach out and educate students more on what asset management is all about, where it sits in the broader financial world," she says.

Mikos has also been involved in industry efforts to help like-minded women. In 2014, she helped co-found Women in ETFs, a group dedicated to supporting women in the asset management industry. "I've met a far more diverse set of talent just from the standpoint of background across the industry and hearing their stories - many of them trailblazers in the business for 30-plus years," she says.

"It just fills you with appreciation for what they have accomplished and how they paved the way."

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