Suzanne Shank named one of Crain's Detroit 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan



Career trajectory:

Suzanne Shank considered going into social work until a high school counselor convinced her to leverage her math and science skills and pursue a career in civil engineering. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology Tech and took a job at General Dynamics.


After a couple of years, Shank decided to earn her MBA in finance from the Wharton School. Investment banking seemed intriguing.


"Many of my peers worked on Wall Street before going to business school. It was the hot job at the time," she said.


In 1987, Shank joined a boutique firm and worked her way up through several firms. In 1996, Muriel Siebert asked her to help establish Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. LLC. The investment bank is the first Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprise to rank as a top 10 municipal debt underwriter.


Power metrics: As president and CEO, Shank is responsible for about 135 staff members. The firm, which mostly handles principal amount municipal and corporate transactions, has participated in more than $2 trillion in financing. Seventy of the Fortune 100 companies are SWS clients.


Biggest career win: Growing the firm through mergers, acquisitions and recapitalizations; surviving three major market downturns in her career; and working with tremendous partners and a tremendous workforce.


Community connections: Shank is a member of several boards, including Rocket Companies, CMS Energy, the Skillman Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Invest Detroit, Wharton School's Graduate Executive board and Spelman College's board of trustees. She is also a member of the International Women's Forum.


Special skill: Hard work. "I am constantly working around the clock to be better. To make sure the firm is better. To make sure client coverage is better. The fact that we have so much repeat business is a testament to the hard work and focus on performance."


Definition of an influential woman: Someone who is fair and provides opportunities for others. "I've been worrying about ESG (environmental, social and governance) long before it became en vogue. An influential woman helps other women achieve their goals."


Biggest career influence: "Muriel Siebert, who really invested in me being a co-founder of the firm and pushing me toward a leadership position though she didn't know me very well. She was a trailblazer on Wall Street. She didn't take no for answer, but she worked within the system."


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Amy Elliott Bragg & Leslie D. Green

Crain's Business Detroit

November 8, 2021