Melissa Martorella, Esq., has learned the importance of knowing her own value and of building self-confidence. Martorella’s curious mind and tireless work ethic earned her dual undergraduate degrees in Hispanic Studies and History from Boston College, a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus in Spanish Secondary Education from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Irvine School of Law in 2015. Since then, she has been an associate attorney in the Banking and Finance section at Geraci, LLP.
As AAPL spotlights women leaders who are climbing the ranks in the traditionally male, private real estate lending industry throughout March, we caught up with Martorella to get her perspective on female leadership and the gender gap.
AAPL: Now that you have been in the industry for a while, what would you tell your younger self about going into this sector of finance?
Melissa Martorella: Be confident and know your worth. Sometimes people will use your age, race, or gender to discredit you but as time goes on and you stay strong and persistent then they will understand your value. Make sure you find a strong mentor that supports you.
AAPL: What motivates you to get out of bed and face your industry on a daily basis?
MM: Every day presents a new challenge and learning opportunity. I also work with an incredible team that makes it a joy to come to the office every day.
AAPL: What characteristics are necessary for a woman to have to be a good leader?
MM: The same as any male leader – passion, confidence, integrity and humility, among others.
AAPL: What changes do you think should be made to create a balance between men and women in the finance industry?
MM: I think that employers should be more cognizant of hiring skilled women and making sure their internal policies promote the retention of women in their companies.
AAPL: Have you experienced or witnessed a larger ratio of men to women receiving leadership positions in your company?
MM: This is an interesting question because our firm is largely female, but almost every management position is held by a male. With the exception of our media/marketing and accounting departments, every legal practice group at the firm is held by a male, and the only partners without Geraci as a last name are male. However, I don’t think this was intentional, and I do see that the company is working to encourage and motivate women to take on leadership positions. I hope that in the short future we will see more female leaders at the firm.
AAPL: How do you think the gender gap has affected or not affected your career?
MM: I think if I worked at a firm where I didn’t have strong mentors or support then my career may have gone differently thus far. I feel grateful that I work in an environment that is supportive of female employees and encourages their growth, so I feel I have not been affected by the gender gap at my current firm.
AAPL: Where do you see a company’s responsibility falling as far as the gender gap?
MM: Making sure that internal policies promote and give opportunities to women and minorities and support their growth.
AAPL: Do you think the Equal Opportunity Act enough?
MM: I think that with any legislation you need buy in from the people and organizations enforcing it for it to become relevant. Without it rules can only do so much, but I do think it is a good start.
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