By Jennifer Erb
2017-07-032017-07-07https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/logo-dark[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Susan was good at math/science in high school but didn’t particularly like them. She decided to go into engineering because several of her friends decided to study engineering. It was a presentation on Industrial Engineering that convinced her that IE was the major for her.
Susan began her career doing inventory management and production planning with Union Carbide in Charleston, WV. This gave her experience in the business side of a manufacturing company. She quickly realized that she needed experience with the sales side of business as well.
Susan was able to move to a customer support role, initially in Dallas, TX and then in New Jersey. She was very successful in those jobs and won several corporate awards.
Susan decided she wanted to pursue an Executive MBA at Wharton, but she was given an offer to work for the CFO of Union Carbide as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis. She was being prepared as one of the next generation of leaders at Union Carbide. Susan then became a business director at Union Carbide.
When Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide, Susan was one of the business directors who survived the transition. This job involved a lot of international travel and Susan grew to hate being away from home. “My son was in middle school at the time and it was tough being an executive and a mom,” Susan says.
It was 9/11 that resulted in a change in Susan’s career. “I was out of the country, and had a tough time getting back to the U.S.” She decided to use her business skills as a financial planner. She went to Rice University to become a Certified Financial Planner. “I took a huge career risk,” Susan says. “I was told that my chances of success were low, but the risk I took has worked out very well.”
Susan reflects on the enjoyment she gets from helping people secure their financial future. Susan feels that her IE degree is the perfect preparation for her current job. “We are taught to be problem solvers and put pieces together. The most important thing I do is to listen. Understanding a family’s financial needs requires the big picture type of thinking that we are taught in Industrial Engineering.”
One final piece that Susan has to share with students is this: “Being a financial advisor is not a first job. You need to have a lot of personal insight to do this job that you can only gain from experience.”
Susan W. Leroux, CFP
Senior Vice President – Financial Advisor
Senior Portfolio Manager
RBC Wealth Management
Susan Leroux is Senior Vice President and a Senior Portfolio Manager for RBC Wealth Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest banks in the world based on market capitalization.
Susan began her career in 1980 by joining Union Carbide Corporation in Charleston, West Virginia. Her career with Union Carbide spanned two decades and a wide variety of business management, product management, business development, logistics, sales and financial roles. After spending years moving through different jobs and around the country, in 1997, she relocated to company headquarters in Danbury Connecticut and was named Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for the corporation. Reporting to the CFO and working directly with the CEO, she led the corporation’s financial planning efforts, including portfolio assessments, capital and resource planning, competitive intelligence and assessment, and M&A financial assessment.
In 1999, Susan was named the Director, Sales, Marketing, and Product Management for the $724MM North American Polyethene business. During her tenure, she oversaw an increase in sales of 15% per year and an improvement in sales/marketing and R&D of 26%. During this time she also served as the Chair of UCC’s Diversity Advisory Committee. The committee was tasked with the development of a well-founded business case for diversity and the development of a work-life strategy for the company.
Following Union Carbide’s merger with Dow Chemical in 2001, she was named Global Business Director for four business units under Dow’s Polyolefin umbrella in Houston. The $1.4 billion portfolio of businesses were truly global in nature with 40% of assets and revenue generated in Europe, 25% in Latin America, 5% in Asia/Pacific and the rest in North America. Growth and productivity was again the focus as sales increased 18% over her two year leadership and productivity grew 33%.
In 2003, Susan began to envision a “second act” to her career that would allow her to be home with her family more often and allow her enhanced flexibility over her work schedule and income potential. She began to explore a whole new field, personal financial management by completing the Certified Financial Planner Program at Rice University in Houston. Once she had completed this training, she took the plunge and left Dow Chemical and joined RBC Wealth Management.
Susan’s success in her new environment has been almost unprecedented as within only four years, she was named to President’s Council (top 400 advisors across the firm) and within 9 years was named to Chairmen’s Council (top 150 advisors). Today, Susan manages over $260MM in client assets.
Susan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University in 1980.