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Why Nicole Conley jumped from public education to investment banking - ABJ

Nicole Conley last year made a huge career switch, although it put her in a different seat at the same table, funding public education in Texas.

Conley is a managing director for Siebert Williams Shank Co. LLC. She was tapped in 2020 to help the firm, the largest woman- and minority-owned investment bank in the country, open its Austin office.

In this year's first quarter, Siebert Williams Shank said it was the senior managing underwriter of negotiated bond financings for $477.1 million, par value, for school construction. That gave it 18% market share, more than any other investment bank. The districts included Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, outside Dallas; Gregory-Portland Independent School District, near Corpus Christie; and the Arlington Independent School District.

Prior to joining Siebert Williams Shank, Conley was chief financial officer and chief business officer at Austin Independent School District. She was named one of Austin Business Journal's Profiles in Power winners in 2019 for her pivotal role leading the school district as well as her statewide impact as a member of the influential Texas Commission on School Finance, which set the stage for school finance reform in recent years. She helped AISD formulate the plans for and then implement the $1.1 billion bond program approved by voters in 2017.

Now, as an investment banker, she helps school districts sell bonds at the best possible rates when pursuing capital projects, such as building new campuses and buying technology.

"It's been a nice segue...transitioning my career from the operations sides and managing school district business, to really focus on the debt side and really being able to figure out the right debt strategies that districts can implement to sort of minimize the impact on taxpayers, but certainly maximize the availability of resources to fund these important projects," Conley said. "It also has really allowed me to work at a firm that matches my passion for advancing women in the field of finance."

Read more about her career in the full article.

Written By: Will Anderson

Managing Editor

Austin Business Journal


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