Kayla Kennelly
Kayla Kennelly29

Vice president of business development, advisor solutions,
BNY Mellon's Pershing

Fast Facts

  • Grew up two blocks from Prince's home in Chaska, Minn.
  • Wrote herself a note in eighth grade that she would live in New York and work in finance.
  • Loves cats.

Pershing's Mark Tibergien has mentored probably thousands of financial advisers over the years, through his prolific writing, speaking engagements and personal contacts. But who mentored him? Kayla Kennelly.

Ms. Kennelly co-founded Connect, Pershing's reverse-mentoring program in which millennials provide advice and insights to senior executives. She was Mr. Tibergien's first mentor in the program.

While she prefers the term "co-mentoring" because she has learned so much from the more experienced executives, the idea for mentoring upward sprang from a comment by an executive committee member that the firm's leadership didn't represent the firm's future constituents, she said.

"Because I had sent articles about millennials to that executive, he asked me to do something, and a group of us did a lot of research to find out what others had done," she said. "We proposed a program to our CEO and he backed it."

So far, about 60 executives and 90 millennials have participated in the program, and every executive committee member has had a younger mentor.

"The program has taught me a lot about leadership and management, and for the company it's had an unexpected positive effect on retention, largely because I think it gives younger people a sense they are being listened to," she said.

Ms. Kennelly said she learned about working hard and of the importance of strong teams from her days as captain of the crew team at Iona College.

"I learned that you have to give feedback, and that a small error can throw off the whole boat."

— Evan Cooper; Photo credit: Brad Trent

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