Academy’s foundation of academics and tradition important to finance executive and alum.
Grosse Pointe Academy alum Elizabeth Myers was named one of the “most powerful women in finance” last year by American Banker, a publication found in most C-suites in the banking and finance industry. Considered one of the industry’s most prestigious honors, the annual program recognizes the professional achievements, personal tenacity and overall influence of top-performing female executives.
For Myers, who is managing director and head of global equity capital markets at J.P. Morgan in New York, such an honor as well as her considerable success on Wall Street are the result of a love of learning and hard work that began years ago at the Academy.
“GPA laid a very strong educational foundation for me and instilled in me a genuine love of learning,” said Myers, who first enrolled at the Academy in pre-school. “There always was great mix of encouragement and support in every class, and teachers were eager to flex the level of challenge upward when a student showed potential. The entire culture at the Academy prepared me to confidently manage higher workloads and the more sophisticated intellectual challenges I encountered as my schooling progressed.”
That schooling for Myers continued at University Liggett after graduating from GPA in 1984. She went on to Princeton University after Liggett and received an economics degree, graduating cum laude.
From Princeton to Harvard
“In terms of a career, as I was finishing up at Princeton, I became very interested in learning about different companies and their business models,” she said. “But I didn’t think I wanted to work for just one company and knew I would have trouble deciding in which industry I was most interested. I knew investment banks had tons of different clients across many industries. I had been an economics major and taken a few finance courses at Princeton and wanted to build upon what I had learned.”
Myers had interviewed with several banks as well as consulting firms before graduating Princeton, so she already had the luxury of a few offers in her pocket, including one from J.P. Morgan, which she said was known to have the best training program on Wall Street.
“I liked all of the people I met during the interview process at the company, so I joined in 1992 and began working with mining industry clients,” she said. “I went on to the technology and telecom industry and then to a mergers and acquisitions group that covered food and beverage clients.”
After three years at J.P. Morgan, and during the time she also was working on an MBA from Harvard, she accepted a position with McKinsey & Company, also based in New York. But only after a short time at McKinsey, she returned to J.P. Morgan post-grad school.
“When I returned to J.P. Morgan, I worked with the equity capital markets group, which focuses on IPOs and raising equity capital for clients across industries,” she said. “I’ve been in that group for 22 years and now head the business worldwide. We generate about $1.5 billion in revenue each year for the firm.”
She said her most exciting work lately is guiding Chinese unicorns — which are rapidly growing companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion — through initial public offerings (IPOs).
GPA legends, rambunctious boys and tradition
Now well entrenched in the complicated and rough-and-tumble world of investment banking, Myers nonetheless can’t say enough about her elementary education at GPA. She still holds close the memories of her time spent at The Grosse Pointe Academy, and those memories include a number of teachers who had a special impact on her.
“Mrs. Chrisner was a legend running the music department when I was there,” she said. “I had very little music ability, but she never made me feel that way. In addition, her concerts were always so memorable. I also remember Mrs. Ward, my English teacher, and her green felt-tip pen that edited all our work. I also recall her keeping the rather rambunctious boys in line as well.”
Myers also had a shoutout for Mrs. Connolly, her science teacher.
“She was very tough, but fair, and I loved learning about the periodic table and doing her lab projects.”
Overall, according to Myers, when she was at GPA, she always felt safe and welcomed.
“It was like a cocoon for me,” she said. “I was quite a shy child when I was very young. But the teachers were always so warm and really put their all into each day in the classroom. I especially appreciated GPA’s beautiful Christian traditions around the holidays, which I miss seeing in my children’s schools today.
“I also remember fondly the reading of the Giving Tree in GPA’s beautiful chapel at Christmas,” she said. “It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Plus, my husband, Greg, and I were married in that chapel in 1999. So many great memories on that campus!”