Carolyn Jackson's Literary Secret
By Robert Hunter
Literary agents and acquisition editors routinely scour the professions
in the hopes of signing up the next Scott Turrow or John Grisham. One place
they haven't tried is the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.
Carolyn Jackson hopes to change that.
In January, Jackson announced she was leaving her position as executive
director and board member of ISDA to pursue a career in writing. "After
giving 15 years to the financial world, it is time to turn to what I always
wanted to do," she says.
The news came as a shock because of the extraordinary success Jackson
has achieved. She began her career in 1982 at Chase Manhattan Bank, serving
as an original member of its fledgling swaps team. After rising to head
of U.S. dollar derivatives trading, she moved to BNP Capital Markets, where
she set up its New York office and managed U.S. dollar derivatives sales
and options trading. Before signing on with ISDA, she moved to Banque Indosuez,
where she served as first vice president in charge of the firm's derivatives
products group and its New York trading desk.
The one-time English major at the University of Virginia changed over
to economics during her sophomore year because she had already read most
of the books assigned by her literature professors. "I switched to
economics, and I found my passion," she says. Her second passion that
is-she had decided at age 8 that she wanted to be a writer. Part of her
rationalization to postpone writing was a belief that she had to gain some
real-world experience before taking up the plume. Twenty years went by and
she had not yet published a word.
When Jackson celebrated her 39th birthday recently-perhaps it's more
accurate to say she experienced it-it became something of an epiphany. She
realized that she was no closer to her dream than she was in college. She
also realized that the derivatives business was not as fulfilling as it
once had been. "I was in it in the beginning, and the period of innovation
has now slowed tremendously," she says. "It was time to move on."
Jackson is interested in writing pop novels. Her first effort, she says
cryptically, will be "based on an experience I had in the business
world 10 years ago." She cites Irwin Shaw as her primary literary influence
(though Theodore Dreiser is her favorite), and hopes to borrow Shaw's descriptive
flair. "I want to capture the pace and feel of New York City,"
she says, just as Shaw did in Rich Man, Poor Man.
Retiring from ISDA will allow Jackson more time to pursue another avocation. In 1993, after spending six years in hard-core aerobics classes, she became
a certified personal trainer, and began teaching aerobics and body sculpting
at Jeff Martin Studio and at Pumping Iron Gym in New York.
Garry Popofsky's Green Eyeshades
The foreign exchange sales departments and accounting departments at
most derivatives dealers occupy different floors-and different intellectual
That's why Garry Popofsky's latest career move is something of a surprise. The new senior vice president in charge of corporate foreign exchange sales
at Lehman Brothers is a CPA who started his career as an auditor at Arthur
Young & Co. Soon afterward, however, he moved to FX sales and swaps
jobs at Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs.
"FX hedging is loaded with accounting implications, so it was a
natural synergy with my accounting background," he says. "Some
long-date currency hedging involves both FX and interest rate components."
Popofsky adds that his swaps background will also come in handy.
JoAnne Tillemans' Solo FX Shop
There are two paths to career success-one is driven by the head and the
other is driven by the heart. In the latter category is JoAnne Tillemans,
who for 12 years has been a prominent consultant to corporate FX programs,
opening her own consulting firm, Avalon International Strategies, seven
years ago. In her 20s, she ran her own dance company, played piano professionally
and worked as an arts program manager in inner-city schools. Later she enrolled
in night school at Hunter College and then went to Stanford to get her MBA-recommended
there by current Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, who
was running Hunter at the time. At Stanford, she interned at Salomon Brothers,
where she helped write a product manual on currency swaps. "These were
so new at the time that they let an intern do it," she quips. She matured
as an FX salesperson while working with Goldman Sachs in London, where she
felt FX was more evolved than in the home country. "What happens in
the United States is nothing compared to the level of sophistication in
Europe," she says.
Her craft today is to help companies identify and manage their currency
risk by doing complete overhauls from the bottom up. A typical project works
as follows: Tillemans identifies all currency exposures globally, looks
for operational changes, sets up hedging strategies, trains accounting and
treasury staff, and writes the company's FX policy and operational management
procedures. "I use an educational approach that teaches everyone the
whole way through. It's very detailed, and typically takes one to two years
to complete," she says.
Bob Baldoni Heads Midtown
For 11 years, Robert J. Baldoni stood at the helm of Emcor Risk Management, a successful boutique run out of a mansion in Irvington, N.Y. A peripatetic
figure at conferences and seminars, and a voluble writer besides, Baldoni
shrewdly promoted his skills to corporate end-users. Most recently he's
been a passionate advocate of Value-at-Risk for corporate currency, interest
rate and commodity exposures.
Last month, Baldoni announced that he and his consulting firm would join a newly restructured risk group at Ernst & Young.
It seems that recent macroeconomic trends in the risk management consulting marketplace have not been favorable to boutiques like Emcor. "The business
changed," says Baldoni. "It required an increasingly heavy investment
in resources, and, as a boutique, that got harder and harder for us to do."
To develop a high-end VAR software package, he notes, costs between $500,000
and $750,000. "We've spent that in the past, but that level of investment
gets harder to maintain as the market gets more complex and the systems
get more expensive."
Another industry trend that helped Baldoni make the decision to jump:
"the lower end of the risk-management consulting business has become
commoditized to some degree," he reveals. "While we don't necessarily
agree that it is the right thing to do, a lot of people are whipping up
risk-management policies off some kind of word processor. Policy and procedures
used to be one of our big businesses and that has slipped to some degree."
In his first week at the mid-Manhattan Ernst & Young offices, Baldoni was clearly thrilled by the sudden access to internal specialists in a wide
range of topics, as well as access to E&Y's rich client base. "There
are crossovers that we lacked as a smaller firm, particularly in the areas
of accounting and tax."
Since the move, Emcor Eurocurrency Management, the firm's associated
money management group, announced it wouldn't be renewing the five-year
lease on its Irvington estate. The mansion will be fondly remembered by
many derivatives dealers and end-users who honed their skills at the firm's
champagne-soaked "Las Vegas Night" parties.