Vice President-Regulatory Product Owner, BNY Mellon
We sat down with AWE Accelerator Aleta Heard, Vice President, Regulatory Product Owner at BNY Mellon. Aleta is on a mission to utilize her passion for people and innovative technology to shape the future and benefit society at large!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Aleta. You graduated top of your class with a master’s degree in Information Systems Management at Duquesne University. But that was less than five years ago. How did you rise through the ranks so quickly?
Hard work! I’ve had many sleepless nights. If I got six hours of sleep that was a luxury. Sometimes it was two hours. I was up late reading, learning code, and hitting books about product management. I worked hard to get certified to become a more skilled technical person. As I sit here reflecting on the last five years, I’m in awe at how my career took off.
Do you think the right people noticed the extra effort you put in?
I think the right people saw that I had the skill sets necessary to do well in this field. Generally speaking, people who have hard technical skills lack soft skills like communication. I’m social, outgoing, and I love to communicate so I think the right people thought I was unique and valuable to the team, which helped my acceleration.
Can you tell me about your job at BNY Mellon?
My title is Vice President, Regulatory Product Owner. I work in Asset Services and Digital as a Regulatory Business Solutions Product Owner. I’m a product owner on US/Canada Custody Regulatory products and serve as a project manager on our ESG project (Environment Social Governance). As the product owner I, essentially, am responsible for maintaining all products, or technology pieces, like apps. I am also Co-Chair of IMPACT EBRG External Connections Committee.
I’d love to hear more about that last tidbit!
I consider myself a business inclusion champion. I am specifically focused on the diversity component of racial implication, so making sure that we are recruiting, retaining, and progressing our diverse talent. We are really taking strides to make sure that we are accelerating in those areas. I am also responsible for managing our external relationships with our community partners so I support our community partners through posting events that are mutually beneficial to BNY Mellon as well as to our external communities.
Have you found that your organization values the initiatives you put forth through your EBRG?
BNY Mellon is committed to diversity and inclusion efforts within our workplace and advancement of all of our multicultural employees. They do a really good job making diversity a priority. How we’re each contributing to DEI initiatives is embedded in our performance reviews. They make it a priority from the top down.
That commitment is exemplary, and organizations should take notes. How else are you channeling that passion of yours?
Among all my other roles, I’m also the CEO and Founder of Masters of Maternity, a dual sided platform for moms to build their birth team and journey using technology. From a full-circle perspective, my expertise in technology & innovation and passion for women empowerment and community, all aligned with my educational background to create this platform.
How did you discover this was what you wanted to do?
I fell in love with the maternal space when I became a mother. It gives me energy just talking about it because I became pregnant and experienced the discrepancies first hand. I want to reshape the trajectory of maternal care and decrease the maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates among women, especially black women as they are two to three times more likely to die from preventable causes during birth. It blows my mind that we can have remote monitoring of the ocean floors and send people to Mars but women are still dying while giving birth. I don’t want to oversimplify the problem but there are so many solutions that can be put in place. I’m in a position to create change so I will.
You have so many exciting projects going on so I’m just glad you took the time to invest in YOU for eight weeks. Can you tell me about your experience with AWE Accelerator?
AWE Accelerator came at the most perfect time, as I am in many transitions, as a wife, mom of two babies, an entrepreneur, BNYM employee, and community change agent.
AWE Accelerator gave me the confidence, motivation and empowerment to overcome the imposter syndrome that I was experiencing in all of my roles, in addition to sharpening my skills. My favorite session focused on Executive Presence. It made me feel qualified and deserving of success, as crazy as it sounds, and empowered me to navigate conversations advancing myself. It gave me the encouragement I needed to view every day as a new opportunity to be great and excel. This is the type of program that can change someone’s life and motivate them to take their career to the next level or do something they may have always been afraid of.
Your accelerated career trajectory is impressive. Your schedule is jam packed. Tell us something about you that can’t be found on a resume or Linkedin bio.
I was a skilled ballerina for about 20 years prior to my technical career. I credit my grit and competitive edge to decades in dance.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.