Stephanie Saint Cyr, Senior Vice President and Director of Wealth Advisory Services at WSFS Financial Corporation, Princeton, NJ.

For many women of color in Corporate America, the proverbial glass ceiling is made of cement, and promotions to the upper echelons of senior executive management are few and far between. Stephanie Saint-Cyr is not one of those women. Instead, she sits firmly at the conference room table as Senior Vice President and Director of Wealth Advisory at WSFS Financial Corporation/Bryn Mawr Trust Management in Princeton, NJ. 

The legal profession and the financial services industry have a long history of being primarily male-dominated and colorless. Saint-Cyr navigated both domains and bucked the trend last month when she became one of the highest-ranking African-American women at the multi-billion dollar company. She shared details of her attorney-to-corporate executive journey in a recent interview with NJ Urban News.

Saint-Cyr lived in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a bachelor’s degree in Finance at 20, she always wanted to go to law school. She worked on Wall Street as a Sales Assistant–learning the terminology and ways of supporting brokers and traders for Merrill Lynch. After four years of working on Wall Street, she applied for and was accepted to Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. “Whenever you talk to lawyers, you never get a response that they loved law school. I’m one of the few lawyers that loved law school,” she said. Before graduating from law school, she created a buzz in Philadelphia when she landed a summer internship at one of the city’s major law firms. “It was the first time a big law firm in the city hired four minority women for the summer associate intern program,” she said. It was a bold move and generated talk and publicity among the legal community throughout the city.

After law school, Saint-Cyr spent the next couple of years practicing state law in Philadelphia before moving to Moorestown, New Jersey, and ran a private practice for seven years. “When you’re a sole practitioner in the legal world, everything is on you, and it can be isolating,” she said. She returned to the corporate world and worked at Wells Fargo before working at Wilmington Trust Bank for six years and joining WSFS. As a woman of color in the corporate world, Cyr said it took her time to build a solid sense of security and confidence about how colleagues and others perceive her. “I was always hesitant about how I would be received by a client or a fellow law partner,” she said. {As a woman of color}”that was always in the back of my mind.” Eventually, the diffidence diminished. “I know there is room for me at any table,” she said. 

Saint-Cyr continues to break boundaries in her field and beyond relishes the opportunity to put herself in places that some see as non-traditional. For example, she is an avid golfer. “I like to squeeze myself into those spaces and bring others along with me,” she said. Despite her accomplishments in the courtroom, board room, and the golf course, she quickly admits that the playing field is still uneven in many sectors in the country regarding inclusion and diversity. She said, “We have made great progress as a society, but there is still a lot more we can and must do.”

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