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February 2020 | Magazine Issue

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Jacob Pruitt | T. Rowe Price

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Diversity Of Perspectives | Feature Articles

Skilled black employees that work for T. Rowe Price

Jacob Pruitt | Vice President & General Manager

Short Bio

Jacob Pruitt is a Vice President, Head of T Rowe Price Charitable and the Colorado Springs site.  Jacob leads a local team who is responsible for executing a multiyear strategic plan for the site which integrates brand awareness, corporate social responsibility, facilities management and local government relations. In addition, he is responsible for leading the firm’s Charitable Giving strategy and Donor Advised Fund.  He joined the firm in 2015 and has since held roles of increasing responsibility, including Head of Client Administration and Plan Consulting and Head of RPS Key Accounts. Also, Jacob is an active member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Operating Council.

Prior to joining T. Rowe Price, Jacob worked for The Vanguard Group, where, as Head of Distribution, Institutional Asset Management, he was responsible for overall business strategy and leadership for the western region asset management and financial advisory business. Prior to joining Vanguard, Jacob held key leadership roles at Fidelity Investment and Bankers Trust Company. Jacob is a graduate of Tennessee State University and Stanford University Business School Executive Management Program. He is a Series 6, 7, 24, 26, and 63 registered representative. Jacob is a decorated United States Marine Corps Desert Storm and Shield War Veteran.

Interview With My Black Colorado

What is your role within T. Rowe Price? 

As vice president and general manager, I’m responsible for executing T. Rowe Price’s local strategy, including brand awareness, growth strategy, corporate sponsorships, grant administration, facilities management, and local government relations for our nearly 1,000 associates in Colorado Springs.

We focus our efforts on a multi-year strategy to make sure that the environment we’re building today will be sustainable and relevant for associates in the future. As we identify new trends, we monitor them and their meaning with the view of developing data-driven roadmaps to achieve success in an ever-evolving workplace.

How did you get into the financial services industry? 

This is my sixth year with T. Rowe Price, and prior to this, I held several executive-level positions at leading asset management firms in the industry. In total, I’ve been in financial services for more than twenty years. 

I received my formal education from Tennessee State University and Stanford University. While in college, I served in the US Marine Corps and was deployed to Kuwait for Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Upon the completion of my undergraduate degree, I was given a chance to join an investment firm in New York City, called Bankers Trust Company, as part of a management training program. That’s where I obtained foundational skills within the financial services industry. The military and the corporate world honed my leadership skills and gave me many unique opportunities to lead people and projects early in my career.   

What do you think the keys to success are? 

I think that one of the primary keys to success is ensuring that you are “always prepared and ready” to take on a new challenge. Being the youngest of 13 children, I was taught by my parents that education was the key to success and will prepare you for any challenge life places in front of you. 

Over the years, many people have opened doors for me and assisted me in advancing my career. The consistent question that I was asked was, “Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and seize the moment?” I have always prided myself on being prepared and willing to take on new challenges in my career. 

Building strong relationships throughout my career has yielded solid returns in my professional and personal life. The reason I joined T. Rowe Price and moved to Colorado Springs was due to a friend and colleague of mine recommending me as a candidate for the job. I think my natural ability to identify and connect with people has been key to my success.  

As a person of color in Corporate America, there are minimal opportunities to get a seat at the table, so it’s essential to make the most of your seat at the table. Make sure you leverage the power that you have and ensure your voice is heard in making a positive impact within your organization and community. To those whom much is given, much is expected! So, it is imperative that you are reaching back and developing the next generation of leaders for your organizations and the world. 

Lastly, no one achieves success by going at it alone. It takes a village, wise counsel, and God’s grace to make it. My approach has always been to establish a board of directors around me to help guide me in my career and key personal decisions. My board is composed of good friends, colleagues, and family who I trust and respect. When a tough decision is required, I reach out to them and say, “Hey, here’s what I’ve got going on. Tell me your thoughts or best advice.” I weigh their opinions and then make an informed decision. As a matter of principle, having decided on an issue, I move forward and don’t look back. You can’t be afraid to take a risk or make big decisions as these propel you forward in your career.   

How do you handle conflict? 

In any business or organization, there should be a healthy amount of debate. It’s critical to have varying viewpoints to avoid watered-down decision making. If everybody thinks the same way, you will get mediocre outcomes to complex business issues. As a leader, you have to understand that sometimes you may be the one causing the conflict. So, you must be vulnerable enough to say, “Well, I heard all the feedback. It’s not the group; it’s me.” Then you have to be willing to adjust your style to bring about the resolution.  

The most important thing required to resolve conflict is being a good listener. You can’t be a leader who walks around with blinders on and believe you have all the answers. If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re destined to fail. There are times when the right thing to do is to give away your power.

How did you end up in the Chamber of Commerce? 

Throughout my career, I have been actively involved in economic development within the communities I have lived, from serving on community development boards to running my own real estate development firm. When I moved to the city of Colorado Springs five years ago, I quickly noticed the town was at a unique inflection point, and the Chamber was at the epicenter for helping to advance the city’s strategic growth. It was a perfect time for me to step in and lend some of my experiences and leverage T. Rowe Price’s expertise to help move the city forward. 

What are some valuable lessons you learned as the first African American to be elected Chair of the Chamber? 

First, it was an honor to be selected as the first person of color to lead the Chamber in its 100-year history. I applaud Dirk Draper and the Chamber’s board of directors for recognizing the need to seek and embrace diverse leaders in the community proactively. That gave me a glimpse into where the Chamber and the city are going as it relates to diversity and inclusion — it reaffirms the idea that all voices and all points of view are important for the success of this city. 

The work of making sure we have a diverse and inclusive business environment for all in Colorado Springs is not done – we still have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve this goal. I encourage the Chamber and the city leaders to continue seeking out the next generation of diverse leaders in the community for board service and critical leadership roles. In addition, it is as important for our young and seasoned, diverse leaders to lean in and get involved to help shape the future direction of this city.  

Next, I have learned that we must focus on the following areas: 1). balanced growth on both sides of the city, north, and Southeast, to achieve prosperity for all citizens. 2). develop and prepare the next generation of high tech, health care, and education workers at the K-12 and university levels. 3). maintain a strong focus on growing and retaining our military presence. 4). building a diverse and inclusive business community is critical to our overall success. 

Lastly, what I have learned is that if you want to drive meaningful change in this city, you have to start from inside the boardroom. It is imperative that we have a seat at the table and ensure our voices are being heard. Many minority-owned small businesses in Colorado Springs are doing remarkable work. Still, often, the members of the community don’t know who they are because there is no connection point for them. Your magazine is a phenomenal tool in bringing those individuals together, so they know who’s doing what and can share resources.

-Interview By Brandon Bornes

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