Meet Adrienne Penta, Managing Director and Executive Director of the Center for Women & Wealth (CW&W). Created in 2015, the CW&W supports women as they create and manage wealth and provides an inclusive environment where women can engage in conversations about wealth, family and values.
This busy mother of two still finds time to prepare meals, watch Master Chef Jr. with her kids, cross-stitch, and take walks with her family. Read on to learn more about what makes Adrienne “Type BBH.”
I saw many women physically sit at the table, but not participate, and I saw some opt out altogether. I started to think that we could do better by women and a plan started to take shape — which eventually became the Center for Women & Wealth."
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Giving up my previous role and launching the Center for Women & Wealth was a scary moment for me. I was Senior Wealth Planner and Regional Trust Head in Private Banking in Boston, and I loved the role and the team. I didn’t want to give up my day job, but I had started writing the plan for CW&W because I knew there was an opportunity to get women more engaged in conversations about wealth. When I talked to then-Managing Partner Digger Donahue about it, he told me there’s no big idea without a big ask and that I needed to ask for a budget to do this right. Digger’s advice was the reason I presented my business plan to PBOC (the Private Banking Operating Committee), where Jeff Meskin, the Partner in charge of Private Banking, told me to think even bigger.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Impatient. I’m always interested in the next thing — creating the solution for the next problem.
What is the biggest misconception about you?
That I’m super-serious. I’m definitely not.
Name two things about you that contribute to your success.
Determination — when I get something in my mind, I think about it every day until I get it done. Curiosity — I’m always looking for the next idea better than the last.
What's your guilty pleasure?
I’m currently watching Insane Pools and Top Chef Jr. with my kids. During COVID, I also started cross stitching — embarrassing!
What was your first “real” job, and what did you take out of it?
I was an intern for both my state senator and state representative for five summers in a row during high school. The chief of staff spent a lot of time with me — an unpaid intern — giving me feedback on the responses I was writing to constituent letters. The lesson that I took out of that was that giving and receiving feedback in the right way is critical in career development.
Do you have a hidden talent, and if so, what is it?
I’m actually a pretty good cook. I’m also a stickler for a well-set table — though with two young children, many of our meals are eaten standing up in the kitchen!
Name something you learned in grammar school that's helped you in your career.
I attended an all-girls’ school from sixth grade through high school, and I’m a huge advocate for all-girls education. During that period, I learned to write and speak. I think clarity and confidence in oral and written communication are the most important skills I have today.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Do you have a hobby or do you play a sport and if so, what is it?
Riding my Peloton — I am not-so-secretly super-competitive.
Complete the following sentence: I will consider this year a success if…
we help women and families make financial decisions that align with their values, even as they navigate volatility — and continue to grow the Private Banking business, despite COVID!
What's your favorite book?
“Pride & Prejudice” by Jane Austen. I need to re-read it!
Did you always know you were going to work in financial services?
No! After law school, I thought I would spend my entire career at a law firm — right up to the day I accepted a role at BBH. When I interviewed here, I had the impression that this was a place where I’d be able to advance my career in many different ways — which has been proven true many times over during my time here. I’ve been given so many opportunities that have allowed me to learn new skills and stretch to take on new challenges. I’m quite far afield from where I thought my career would go and so grateful for it.
What's the most important quality you look for in an employee?
Enthusiasm for learning.
What's the best part of your daily ritual?
In the pre-COVID world, it used to be dropping my kids off at the bus stop and then walking to work, often with my husband. We’d talk about our plans for the day and have a moment of calm before the day started. Now we just walk around the neighborhood with our new puppy!
What piece of advice would you give other BBHers?
Don’t think about mentorship or sponsorship in a formal or linear way — it’s dynamic. I’ve had many advocates who were unexpected. At BBH, I think everyone considers sponsorship and mentorship parts of their job. Don’t think of it as one person — you are a sponsor and a mentor, and you have sponsors and mentors throughout the organization in many departments and at every level. We tend to want to put the idea of mentorship in a box, and that’s not how it works.
Can you share a story that illustrates the BBH meaning of teamwork, integrity and/or excellence?
Within Private Banking, we’re building a sales enablement discipline, which will provide support for our front office in sourcing new client relationships and winning new business. As we began the sales enablement effort, we had a day of learning with our InServ colleagues, who have been at this for a while. Even though we’re two distinct business lines, everyone was generous with their time and excited to help us and to share their experiences. No one left without saying, “Call me any time.” This is BBH at its best. We are one team, even though we work in separate businesses.
What makes you passionate about the work you do?
The passion for the work I do comes from my personal experience — actually it starts with my own parents. My father died suddenly in 1999, and in short, he left my mom with a mess. After his death, we learned that he had a simple “I love you” will, leaving everything to my mother and not including three children from a prior marriage. As a result of this half-baked estate plan, feelings were hurt, and litigation ensued. The silver lining of this story is that I learned the importance of intentional, values-based estate planning. I also saw what happens when all the stakeholders are not at the table for important conversations about wealth and planning. When I joined BBH in 2008, nearly a decade after my dad’s death, I saw my mother — who is not intimidated by much — continue to question whether she had the right financial advisors. I started thinking about the many clients I had counseled. Did they ever feel like my mother? I saw many women physically sit at the table, but not participate, and I saw some opt out altogether. I started to think that we could do better by women and a plan started to take shape — which eventually became the Center for Women & Wealth. I am incredibly proud that this Fall we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of CW&W!