A change of plans

Nov 01, 2018
Chalene Roberts ACA on working at the New York Federal Reserve,  her key to success and finding balance.

You went from Antigua to Canada to London to Ireland – what drove you to become an Irish Chartered Accountant?

Even at a young age growing up in Antigua, my parents thought that I’d grow up to be an accountant because of my aptitude for mathematics. But I have to admit that didn’t fully recognise the opportunity available to me until much later when I studied accounting during my master’s programme. After working for two years at the High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda in London, I decided to go to Ireland for a year to pursue a post-graduate diploma in accounting at DIT. During the first couple of months of the programme, the college had a job fair at which the big accounting firms were recruiting for the following year’s intake. I decided to change my plans and applied for the program. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

How did you make your move to the New York Federal Reserve?

After leaving Ireland to move to the States, I successfully worked in consulting for a few years and later decided that I wanted a role that would provide me with opportunities for continued growth but also more of a work-life balance. A couple of friends who had worked at the Federal Reserve for several years thought the organisation would be a good fit for me given my accounting, audit background and international perspective. So, I applied for an opening in the Statistics Department and have been growing in the department ever since.

What about your current position surprises you every day?

Beyond being able to say that I work at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (which still makes me pinch myself even after three years), what surprises and impresses me the most is the impact I can have through the work I do as part of my Department. We collect and analyse regulatory and capital data from some of the world’s largest financial institutions, and this information is used by the Bank Supervisory teams to enforce regulations on these institutions and by policymakers at the Federal Reserve Board to define and enact monetary policy. These institutions reach out to people like me to help them understand the nuances of their regulatory reporting requirements. Although I may be providing assistance in a relatively small area, it is one of the many pieces in the puzzle of national monetary policy.

What’s your key to success?

What has helped me to be successful over the years is a willingness to treat every meeting with a new group as if I am learning something from scratch. By doing so, I check any preconceived notions at the door and I become truly open to learning something new. If I treat each day as an opportunity to learn, then I will continue on the path of personal and professional growth.

How do you combat stress from your busy work life so you can enjoy your home life?

Every night, I make a list of the things I need to accomplish the following day, and then disconnect from work on the subway home. I believe that having this balance not only makes me a happier person, but it also makes me more impactful when I switch back ‘on’ at work.