August 3, 2016 Alert - Today’s WiS Profile - Lisa Hernandez and Claire Mezzanotte
 
August 2, 2016
 

 

Today's WiS Profiles - Lisa Hernandez and Claire Mezzanotte

In connection with WiS Week 2016, SFIG is pleased to share profiles of accomplished women in securitization in recognition of the strides that they have made in their careers, and the contributions they have made to SFIG, the industry, and their organizations. Not only are these individuals' accomplishments impressive in their own right, but their experience and insight serve as inspiration to women just beginning their careers.

Today, we invite you to meet Lisa Hernandez, Senior Manager at Deloitte, and Claire Mezzanotte, Group Managing Director at DBRS.

Lisa Hernandez, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Lisa has more than 14 years of financial services experience, including assisting clients that are entering the capital markets through various financial transactions and supporting clients and other industry participants as they navigate through the regulatory environment. As an active member of SFIG, Lisa is the co-chair of the Blockchain taskforce and a member of the editorial review committee. Lisa is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is a certified public accountant licensed to practice in New Jersey and New York. 

How did you get started in the field of securitization?  Did you face any initial roadblocks?

I was an auditor and there was an opportunity to do a rotation in
the securitization practice in my firm and I took on the opportunity, because I wanted to learn something new.  Initial roadblocks: countless number of sleepless nights (i.e. working through the night).

What skills from your early career have helped drive your success in structured finance?  

I don’t know that I can pin point it to specific skills, but ever since I was a kid I have always been intellectually curious; eager to understand how things work or learn something new….in fact, that’s what brought me to the securitization industry.  This drive to learn new things and take on new opportunities is what’s led to my success.

What was a turning point in your career in structured finance that helped get you to where you are today? 

I don’t know that I can necessarily say there was one turning point; it has, and continues to be, more about taking on different opportunities available to me.  I started off as an auditor and wanted to learn something new.  I took on a rotation in the securitization practice at Deloitte, a rotation that became permanent.  From there I took the initiative to learn about as many different assets as I could, then volunteered to help open an office in Hawaii, helped develop a tool that would be used by the entire practice…..the list goes on.  I took on as many opportunities as I could, in aggregate each contributing to where I am today. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to a woman thinking about starting a career in structured finance?  

Hard work will only get you so far, but you also need be able to self-promote. 

In your opinion, what is the biggest barrier facing women in securitization today?

Fact:  There are more men than women in the securitization industry.  It can be intimidating joining a meeting or attending a dinner when you’re the only female present.  Just be confident in the fact that you were invited for a reason.

Did you have any female mentors that helped you throughout your career? How was that helpful? 

I had and have female mentors that helped shape and guide me as I advance in my career.  My firm also invests in me, sponsoring me to participate in a number of different women’s leadership programs.  Lastly, and equally as important, I also have male mentors that have helped me throughout my career “pounding the table for me.”  I continue to grow as a result. 

Is there anyone in particular you have tried to model your career after? If so, why?

No.  There are people inside and outside of the industry that I admire for their accomplishments and are mentors to me (both male and female), but I plan on leaving my own personal legacy. 

What is your favorite out of office activity? 

Running.  I love to run.  My passion for running developed in 2010 during my participation in team Deloitte and the NYC Marathon.  Running’s not just about putting one foot in front of the other; it’s a sport that requires commitment, dedication, and sacrifice for self-improvement.  These are all qualities that define me.  

 

Claire Mezzanotte, DBRS, Inc

Claire J. Mezzanotte is a Group Managing Director with DBRS and is head of the Global Structured Finance Group.  She is responsible for managing the rating teams, quantitative analysis, research and surveillance functions based in London, New York, Chicago and Toronto.  Claire is also the Chair of the Structured Finance Criteria Committee, which approves rating methodologies prior to the Independent Review Function.  Claire is on the Board of Directors for the Structured Finance Industry Group, and is a member of the Audit Committee. Previously, Claire was Head of Structured Finance Credit Policy where she was responsible for managing the development of global structured finance rating methodologies, serving as Chair of the Structured Finance Criteria Committee in addition to establishing policies and procedures regarding the rating process.  Claire was also involved in regulatory affairs. From 1995 to 2007, Claire was employed by Fitch Ratings in various capacities including managing the U.S. Consumer Asset-Backed Securities Group and a senior member of the Credit Policy Group focused on structured finance rating activities. Prior to Fitch, she was employed by Moody’s Investors Service in the Municipal Structured Finance Department, Chase Manhattan Bank in Credit Administration and Middle Market Lending and the New England International Development Corporation, an investment banking boutique. Claire received a BS with honors in Finance from the University of Connecticut.

How many years have you been in the securitization industry?TT

I have worked in the securitization industry for 23 years.  I started in January 1994 at Moody’s Investors Service, spent 12 years at Fitch Ratings and the last nine years at DBRS.  Prior to Moody’s, I was credit trained at Chase and worked at a boutique investment bank that raised capital for the hotel industry.   

What skills from your early career have helped drive your success in structured finance?

I believe the most important skills that helped me in my career include perseverance, being able to identify challenges or problems and implementing effective solutions and my ability to express myself well.

What was a turning point in your career in structured finance that helped get you to where you are today?

I was fortunate to have been credit trained at Chase, which provided me with a solid foundation from which to build my career.  A turning point for me occurred when I took a ground floor opportunity in a small firm that had yet to be established.  With my background and skills, I was able to add value from the outset.  This enabled me to take on more responsibility, managerial roles and gave me exposure to senior management.    

What is one piece of advice you would give to a woman thinking about starting a career in structured finance?

Meet with people in the business to determine where to seek out opportunities that align with one’s skills and interests.  Inquire about the work and a potential path for advancement, the environment and any other factors that are important to you. 

What are your current career goals? What steps will you make to achieve that goal?

Working at DBRS has been very rewarding as we have organically grown into new markets over the last nine years and are now the fourth largest rating agency.  I aspire to continue in my capacity at the company and to take on additional roles and responsibilities.   

What are three words you would use to define yourself?

Energetic, tenacious and focused.

How do you think WIS can influence and affect the role of women in the structured finance industry?

I think WIS provides a forum for women to network and participate in programs that afford them the opportunity to learn about the attributes and strategies of successful women in the industry.

What is your favorite out of office activity?

I enjoy the opera, theater and concerts.  I also enjoy being outdoors playing golf, hiking and sailing.  I am yoga fan in addition to going to the gym to take all types of classes. 

 

For questions, please contact wis@sfindustry.org.

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