Spotlight Story

Claire Kurmel MBA 04: A Focus on Financial Security

Describe your career path, from Barclay’s to BlackRock to your current position as managing director, North America channel marketing at State Street Global Advisors.

Looking back over the last 10 years, my career path appears to be linear. I accepted a digital marketing role at Barclays Global Investors in 2005, and now I am in a marketing leadership role for one of the world’s largest investment management firms. There were many ups and downs during that time. For example, the global financial crisis ushered in a new era of regulatory scrutiny and self-reflection. I decided to stay in the financial services industry after the crisis because I believe that a community of investment professionals can help deliver better financial outcomes for millions of Americans. I’d like to be part of that.

The GSM publishes an annual study of California Women Business Leaders. Do you have advice for women seeking to advance their careers?

I’m very encouraged by the gender diversity initiatives at State Street Global Advisors and other large financial firms. I recommend that every hiring manager—both men and women—learn how to write or deliver a gender-neutral performance review. For women, this can also help when crafting your own annual performance review.

What are you passionate about in your work?

I’m still very interested in solving communication challenges. A modern marketer must develop a clear and compelling narrative across all  marketing and communication channels such as video, web, social and print.

Where is your career headed?

I am the daughter of a banker and a teacher. Growing up, my parents made financial literacy a priority—we talked about money, saving and investing at the dinner table. I work in financial services because I want all Americans to retire with dignity. Increasingly, lawmakers and industry are working together to expand financial education and access to more people (e.g., myRA). I firmly believe that with the right saving and investing habits we can have a measure of financial security. This goal gives meaning to my day-to-day and helps me focus on new opportunities that will make an impact.

How are you a game changer? Or—how are you making a positive impact in the world?

Through the State Street Foundation, I participate on grant committee for Bay Area nonprofits. We support workforce development programs for a variety of local communities, including at-risk youth, recent immigrants and veterans. As part of this work, I get to act as an ambassador to the Youth Employment Services program and the San Francisco Beacon Initiative. 

How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?

Getting my MBA was the first step on my current career path. As a marketer, my analytical, data-driven approach makes me more effective within the financial services industry—especially when communicating with business, sales and investment professionals in my organization. The GSM’s unique and consistent emphasis on group collaboration also instilled in me the tangible benefits of working in diverse teams.

Your favorite GSM memory?

One of my proudest moments at the GSM, was presenting awards to the winners of the Big Bang! business competition. The Big Bang! organizing committee managed to attract fierce competitors, top-notch speakers and wonderful sponsors. In the end, the program highlighted outstanding research and ideas from the UC Davis community and work from other institutions.

Anything else?

My husband, Charlie, and I live in San Francisco. We recently started road biking together on weekends. We usually ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Marin Headlands. Bay Area alumni should keep an eye out for us on the road!

 How do you support and participate in the GSM now? Why is it important to support graduate business education?

I was lucky to serve on the GSM Alumni Association Board for three years. My board term is over, but I still donate to the School every year and participate in volunteer opportunities like informational interviews. It feels like alumni resources keep growing and changing. I encourage all alumni to update their contact information in the database so they can stay connected to our large and growing GSM community.