What brought them to Pru
For these employees, their diverse backgrounds have been their path to success and an asset to the company.
By Kara Corridan
Photo: Kwynasia Young, Olasubomi Sulaiman and Colleen Oulahan each bring a unique range of experiences to Prudential.
Each Prudential employee has a story about what led them here.
For some it was through a personal or professional connection. Others applied to posted roles without any ties to the company.
Still more are recruited by Human Resources’ Talent Acquisition team. And within this group are those tapped by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Recruitment team. Its goal is to ensure that Prudential’s talent pool includes exceptional candidates from historically underrepresented groups.
The reason is simple: It makes good business sense to bring in talent with a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives. “If we don’t have an equitable and inclusive recruitment strategy, we are going to lose out on incredible talent. So my team creates innovative programs and fosters relationships with organizations such as the National Association of Black Accountants, or NABA,” says Nya Patel, head of DEI Recruitment (see “A proven pipeline” below to meet four employees closely connected to NABA).
And the work to foster an inclusive culture must continue once employees join Prudential. “It takes a lot of energy for an employee to try to be somebody else at work. At Prudential, we build an environment where they feel included. That piece is crucial,” says Kate McKeon, director, DEI Recruitment.
Meet three employees whose path to Prudential started with the company’s diversity recruiting strategy:
Investment analyst, Asset Management, PGIM Real Estate
As a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, Young had job interviews where “it felt like a fraternity.”
“Finance is already a male-dominated industry, and then real estate financing is even more so. But as I was interviewing, PGIM stood apart because there were a lot of women,” she recalls. “And many of them reached out to me.”
Young’s connection to those women: Girls Who Invest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership roles in the asset management industry. She had completed the organization’s Summer Intensive Program, which not only provided her with technical skills in the world of finance and investment but connected her to a wide network of women in these fields. So when Young was contemplating a career at Prudential, PGIM’s Girls Who Invest alum contacted her.
“They said, ‘Ask me anything,’” she says. “I wanted to know how they found the opportunity to grow, what their day-to-day looks like, what the work-life balance is. Things I might have been a little nervous to ask the interviewer. Getting their input was really helpful. I thought, ‘My community is already there.’”
She joined PGIM in 2020, and two years in, she’s still happy with her decision.
Equally important, her manager is grateful she chose PGIM. “Kwyn has been a great addition to our team,” says Joel Meyer, vice president, Asset Management, PGIM Real Estate. “Her willingness to share her perspective and ask both clarifying and probing questions have had a positive impact on our team. She is a self-starter and an active participant in various PGIM DEI initiatives, such as the Diversity Council, Launch Academy mentorship and Community Engagement.”
Young intends to pay forward the goodwill and encouragement she’s experienced: “I’m looking forward to passing the torch and encouraging other young women to see real estate and finance as a viable career path.”
Associate, Systems Development, Global Technology
Days before the pandemic hit, Sulaiman came from Alcorn State University, a historically Black university in Mississippi, to Prudential’s Newark, New Jersey, headquarters. He’d be attending a three-day summit geared toward sophomore students. A computer science major, Sulaiman had been identified by Talent Acquisition as a strong potential full-time employee. During the summit, he participated in Agile workshops and networked with members of the Black Leadership Forum business resource group.
He made such a strong impression, he was offered a virtual internship in the summer of 2020, working in Global Technology. One of his projects was to collaborate with two fellow interns to manually convert more than 3,000 pieces of content to a more accessible format.
“His work ethic was impeccable,” recalls Anna Safonova, vice president, Tech Lead, Global Technology, who supervised Sulaiman. “He was committed to making sure the project got done. And keep in mind, he was a sophomore in college and this was a virtual internship.”
Sulaiman had other attractive options for internships last summer, but was drawn to the people he met at Prudential. “I loved how I worked with so many people who’ve been here for 10 or 15 years. And everyone was eager to help me. So when I had the opportunity to come back full time, it felt like coming home.”
Associate manager, Investment Operations, PGIM Operations and Innovations
After four years of ROTC in college and another four years of active service in the Army — including a nine-month deployment in Poland — Oulahan was ready to transition out of the military. She’d acquired strong management skills through her work in human resources and connected with Hiring Our Heroes, an organization that introduces the military community to career opportunities.
After interviewing with nearly a dozen organizations, Oulahan’s No. 1 pick for an employer was Prudential, which had put Oulahan at the top of its list, too. She completed a three-month fellowship that resulted in a full-time job at PGIM, where she’s been since April 2021.
“We quickly realized that Colleen’s military background contributed to her role as a leader, mentor and in her drive for results,” says Angela Pridgen, manager, Consolidated Investment Reporting, PGIM Operations and Innovations. “She takes ownership of and pride in challenging assignments. She has a great attitude, an excellent work ethic and a consistently high standard of performance.”
In addition to the work itself, Oulahan appreciates the community she’s found in the VETNET business resource group. “If I ever feel like the transition is a little much, there’s a group of people who understand exactly what I’m going through and who’d be able to assist,” she explains. “That’s part of why I chose Prudential.”
For more than 25 years, Prudential has partnered with the National Association of Black Accountants, or NABA. As a corporate sponsor, the company attends NABA’s national convention and its local chapters’ recruiting events, all with the goal of boosting the number of Black candidates who see Prudential as an attractive potential employer. And in fact, because of this year’s convention, Prudential extended nine job offers, five of which have been accepted to date.
“Expanding opportunity to diverse professionals is critical to Prudential’s success as we work to expand access to investing, insurance and retirement security. Our partnership with NABA helps us to foster a more inclusive community with outstanding Finance professionals that bring a vast range of experiences and perspectives,” says Mark Finkelstein, senior vice president and chief financial officer, U.S. Businesses Finance, Finance and Actuarial Community.
In these videos, you’ll hear from employees who have a deep connection to NABA: