How Suzanne Shank became Wall Street’s most powerful black woman

Michael Eli Dokosi October 08, 2019
Suzanne Shank -- Photo Credit: Crain's New York Business/ Buck Ennis

Recently, her investment bank joined forces with another notable financial house in a bid to consolidate their power. In that strategic move, chairwoman, CEO and founding owner of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., Suzanne Shank proves she is hungry for success, despite her many gains.

Before her foray into financial services, Ms. Shank was a structural engineer for General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division, working on noise mitigation projects but also negotiating contracts with General Dynamics’ top clients.

She is a graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance, and the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

How Suzanne Shank became Wall Street’s most powerful black woman
2007: Suzanne Shank joins Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, as she rings the bell to celebrate her 40th anniversary of buying a seat on the New York Stock Exchange -NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE

An already brilliant lady, Shank’s business acumen got sharpened when she got mentored by Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Siebert passed in 2013 and Shank has now taken the lead in continuing to create and develop opportunities for women and young people in finance. Starting out at a boutique firm, Shank recalls of her varied background.

“I was naturally inclined to pursue a career in public finance because of my infrastructure background. Instead of designing roads and highways, I was focused on financing those projects. I was one of the few people in the room who could understand the engineering reports.”

Now serving as president and chief executive officer of the merged entity Siebert Williams Shank & Co. L.L.C., Ms. Shank’s 30-year industry experience comes in handy when executing deals. Little wonder then she was named one of the top women in finance.

How Suzanne Shank became Wall Street’s most powerful black woman
Suzanne F. Shank and family attend Black Girls Rock! 2017 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on August 5, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

Under her watch as CEO, Siebert Cisneros grew from a start-up investment banking firm in 1996 to one which has participated in over $2 trillion in municipal bond, corporate bond and equity transactions.

She against all odds steered her firm to be a top-ranked minority- and woman-owned municipal bond underwriter for 18 consecutive years and the first MWBE firm to rank in the top 10 among all firms as lead manager.

She is the first to lead a deal over $1 billion in principal amount. As CEO, Ms. Shank develops strategies for new business growth nationally and manages financial, operational and regulatory aspects of the firm.

Given that failure is an orphan while success boasts of many fathers, Ms. Shank among others serves as a Director of Pensare Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:WRLSU), CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS) and Consumers Energy Company. She is on the boards of the Skillman Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center Executive Council on Infrastructure, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and Global Citizen. Ms. Shank is also a member of the Wharton School’s Graduate Executive Board and Spelman College’s Board of Trustees, and a member of the SEC’s Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee and International Women’s Forum.

How Suzanne Shank became Wall Street’s most powerful black woman
Suzanne Shank at Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., LLC headquarters at 100 Wall Street in New York -TRAVIS CURRY

Ms. Shank has won numerous awards and honors throughout her career including receiving the 2017 Shot Caller Award presented at the BET “Black Girls Rock!” Ceremony, the “Austin Koenen Career Achievement Award” by the Municipal Forum of New York in 2017, and the “2016 Freda Johnson Award for Trailblazing Women in the Private Sector” by The Bond Buyer. She was also named one of the “100 Most Influential Women in 2016” by Crain’s Detroit Business.

The wife and mother has also received the “Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award” by the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America and was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni at Georgia Institute of Technology. Ms. Shank has been recognized by U.S. Banker Magazine as one of the “Top 25 Women in Finance”, by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the “50 Most Influential Black Women in Business” and one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” and by Women in Public Finance as “She’s Our Hero”. She has appeared on Wall Street Week, CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: October 9, 2019


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