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Careers in Finance

PRESIDENT : Jamilla Payne

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How would you describe your job?
As the president of Milla by Mail, my job is to focus on overall business development (sales), strategy, and financial growth. Milla by Mail provides shopping for busy women; we do that through our online boutique (www.millabymail.com) and special events. Because the company is still small I wear a lot of hats. A large part of my day is spent on developing and executing marketing strategy that helps to acquire customers. At any given time, I can be answering customer calls or business-development calls, or packing and shipping a customer order.

Describe how you got to where you are today. What was your smartest move? What would you do differently if you had the chance?
I was very fortunate that I was introduced to entrepreneurship at a very young age. My parents are both very entrepreneurial people, so they never discouraged me from starting my own enterprises. My first business started when I was 10 years old, and by the time I was in high school, I had a jewelry-making business that grossed $500 a week. I gained a lot of business and financial skills from being involved with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship's (NFTE) local Philadelphia program that was held at Temple University. There were also local state representatives that held programs that I took part in. My smartest move was getting started early. Many people feel that they need to wait until they finish school to start a business, but it's just not true. The sooner you get started the better, even if it's a small business or a hobby that creates extra cash.

If I had the chance to do something differently in my business, I would have raised more money initially. The amount of capital you start with can also determine how quickly you can grow. I started my business with personal savings and a microloan, but now I am in the process of raising more money so that I can expand the business. I also would have built a team much sooner. It's amazing what I achieved in my business in the early years with just me. I can only imagine how much faster I would have been able to catapult growth with a few mini-me's.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?
There are so many rewarding components to what I do. It's a constant challenge. Many people feel stagnant in their work -- they are not learning or growing -- but I'm faced with new challenges on a daily basis. In addition, building a business is very much linked with personal and spiritual growth and development. I have learned more about myself and my personal assets, skills, and abilities, as well as challenges through running my business than I ever could have learned in any other way. I have also been afforded so many opportunities to do things that I just would not have been able to experience, especially so young, had I not been an entrepreneur. This includes developing my finance skills, leading speaking engagements, being offered media opportunities, special invitations to events, and meeting people that have changed my life.

What advice do you have for young people considering a career in finance? What did you wish you knew?
I truly believe that those that understand the money rule the world and finance is definitely an avenue that will allow you to achieve great success. Last year I went back to school and received my MBA and now I am completing a concentration in finance. As you learn more about business, develop career objectives, or study other people that have achieved success, you will find that financial knowledge and building or owning businesses is always a part of the equation.

It's important not just to learn personal financial management and investment management, but also to build these skills by actively using them. Take a hundred dollars or so and invest in the stock market -- there are tons of programs like Better Investing (www.betterinvesting.org) that will allow you to buy as little as one share of stock in a company. Also, keep and maintain a budget, balance your checkbook, and start using the financial skills that you've learned in your everyday life.

What do you see yourself doing in five years' time?
In five years I would like to be publishing more. I am currently working on a book that I will have completed next month. I would like to write more about finance, leadership, retail, fashion, and building businesses. I would also like to travel more and potentially spend a minimum of 60 days out of the year in another country, where I will be expanding by opening retail locations to local franchisees and/or teaching entrepreneurship.

What personal characteristics are required for someone to be successful in your job?
To be successful in retail or as an entrepreneur requires dedication, focus, and the willingness to learn on a regular basis.

Gaining an understanding of business and finance is also very necessary. One of the other required skills is leadership. You must develop your leadership skills and have the ability to think creatively, resolve problems, and execute a vision. Most important is to do something that you love. As long as you're passionate about what you're doing, the work required to make it happen will come naturally. Finally, don't delay on getting started; your life is now.