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Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Stories of Leadership: Vanessa Henderson

Henderson graduated from SDSU in 2005 with a marketing degree.

Vanessa Henderson, ’05, is executive director at MSCI, a New York City-based provider of investment tools to clients ranging from large pension plans to boutique hedge funds.  A native of Walnut Creek, California, she majored in marketing and minored in political science.

Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?
Vanessa Henderson

In 2005 I was hired by fellow SDSU alum John Orendain, who at the time was a branch manager at Morgan Stanley in Del Mar, California. Wealth management is where I began my career in financial services, later transferring to New York City and a job in institutional sales.

A year or so later, my company asked me to manage our Canadian business — a responsibility that lasted for three years and yielded great business opportunities and further global expansion for our firm. More recently, I am very proud of the sales team I manage, a team of a dozen extremely talented, driven and highly dependable men and women. I am lucky to work with them.

What are your proudest achievements?

Making it to New York City and (so far) surviving — personally and professionally. I have a wonderful network of friends and colleagues, many of whom have adopted me as their extended family. This New York community has made my life on the East Coast truly wonderful and fulfilled.

What was your favorite college memory?

I had many wonderful college experiences, but graduation day is my favorite memory. My family was with me, standing tall and proud with smiles that spanned ear to ear. I was proud of myself and thankful for my hard work and dedication. It’s a wonderful memory. Sometimes I think we don’t give ourselves enough credit for a job well done.

Who was your favorite professor?

My favorite college professor is Massoud Saghafi. He was one of my upper division business professors, instructing on global marketing practices. Saghafi was not only incredibly intelligent and insightful, but also someone I could depend on for candid feedback and post-graduation career advice. He was very direct and to the point, and I appreciated that.

If you were to give current SDSU students some advice, what would you say?

Work hard! Work harder than you ever thought possible. Constantly set achievable goals for yourself and meet them. Persevere. Pave the way. Own your actions and take accountability for your mistakes. Ownership builds character and others will respect you for it. Go for it and have fun!

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite book?

I am currently reading “The Art of Possibility” by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. The title pretty much speaks for itself. The idea is that we can be our greatest obstacles to achieving success. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but my favorite book is “The Hunger Games” — a story of thrill and adventure. Definitely a fun read.

What quality do you value the most in friends and colleagues?

Honesty. Your real friends will give it to you straight and invaluable colleagues and employees will do the same, in a respectful and (hopefully) polished manner.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?

I guarantee there would be a few items on my list, but on the top would be an action to financially seed a trust dedicated to helping the homeless and mentally ill. No man, woman or child should have to spend a night vulnerable, neglected and alone on the streets.

If you knew you could not fail, what would you attempt?

I would sign up to be a lead-singing vocalist at an amazing concert at the Viejas Arena. No joke! I’ve always wanted to have an amazing singing voice.