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Alumni Spotlights

Illustration of Melanie McEwen

Melanie McEwen

MBA '16

Senior director/principal–distribution performance, Northwestern Mutual
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Region: Midwest

Alumna shares perspective as woman of color in finance industry.

From roles leveraging a background in industrial and systems engineering to trading fixed income securities for one of the world’s largest asset managers, Melanie McEwen (MBA ’16) has spent her career in fields that are known for their underrepresentation of women and people of color. She happens to be a part of both groups and said that oftentimes she’s been the first and/or the only Black woman working in a department.

“I find myself navigating work environments where I am both highly visible because of my race and appearance, and also often not recognized by colleagues, represented by managers, or supported in talent development,” says Melanie.

After graduating from WSB, Melanie worked as a fixed income trader at Vanguard for three years, before landing the role at Northwestern Mutual. Melanie reflected on how it feels to be a woman of color drastically underrepresented in the finance industry at her level.

“I’ve commonly experienced other people scrutinizing whether I ‘deserve’ to be in my role, and rationalizing my position as a fulfillment of quota as opposed to possession of skill and track record of impact.”

“I appreciate UW–Madison and the Wisconsin School of Business for making space for this conversation because representation matters! I have been affirmed and inspired by some of the most dynamic, diverse professionals in business and I am forever grateful for their impact in my life.”

Learn more about the Wisconsin Full-Time MBA.

Read more of Melanie’s reflections on her career experience.