Large, established companies can be appealing when pursuing a finance position, but for Rosa Montes Vaca, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
“I like supporting the underdog, because it makes me want to fight more,” says Vaca.
Throughout her 32-year career in investment banking and business development, Vaca has often worked at small firms. After graduation, she joined Artemis Capital Group, Inc., the first women-owned investment bank on Wall Street, founded by six former Goldman Sachs executives.
She started as a financial analyst and later assumed the duties of a vice president, gaining experience she never would have received early in her career had she worked at a firm with more resources, she says. Artemis’ leaders quickly promoted her to the pitch team competing for multimillion dollar deals. Later, Vaca became a VP at E. J. De La Rosa & Co., California’s first Mexican-owned investment bank.
Like the firms she grows, Vaca sees herself as a powerful underdog. She grew up in a low-income, single-parent home with six siblings in Alameda, Calif., and applied to Cal—her dream school—despite an instructor discouraging her from doing so. “I’ve walked both sides of the track,” she says. “I see opportunities other investment bankers and business development people do not—and I’m relentless with relationship building and service.”
Now, Vaca is focusing her talents on consulting for social impact and climate investing firms. It’s a change from banking, but she’ll carry the same drive she brings to all her work. “You learn about yourself building a company,” she says. “You find out just how powerful you really are.”