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The Power of Empowerment

Anu Aiyengar is a thought leader that gives others a chance to thrive

Anu Aiyengar
Managing Director, North American Mergers & Acquisitions, J.P. Morgan

Vanderbilt MBA 1999

As Anu Aiyengar received the Impact and Innovation award from Dress for Success — an international not-for-profit organization that seeks “to help women thrive in work and in life” — it would have been understandable for her to flash back to her first day on Wall Street.

When Aiyengar joined JP Morgan in 1999, as a newly minted Vanderbilt MBA, “sometimes I would go entire days where I never saw another female.” Back then, as she told TheStreet.com, “people weren’t sure if a woman could be successful in M&A.”

If anyone had doubts before, Aiyengar has surely helped erase them. At J.P. Morgan, she became Managing Director for North American Mergers and Acquisitions. Since 1999, she has advised the firm’s clients on transactions worth more than $500 billion.

Aiyengar is also in demand for her analyses of the market. When she returned to Vanderbilt as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series, for example, she discussed trends that she believed would influence M&A activity in 2018.

Throughout her career, Aiyengar has been a champion for women in business. She co-chairs the Investment Bank’s women network and is involved with initiatives within J.P. Morgan and on Wall Street to recruit, mentor and develop women — who are still underrepresented in M&A positions.

In fact, Aiyengar derives some of her deepest satisfaction from empowering others to be their best — an impulse that was reinforced by the culture she found at Owen. At J.P. Morgan, she promotes an environment where “everyone has the ability to be a leader and make an impact. What’s the point in having the best and brightest,” she asks, “if everyone can’t come up with a new and better way to do things? When you see a person become the best version of themselves, that’s a high, and that’s fun.”