Deacon Spotlight: Shana Eagle Hurt

Shana Eagle Hurt (1995 BA in History, JD 1999)Shana Hurt headshot

Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley in Winston-Salem, NC

Tell us about your current job role and employer. What are you currently working on?
I recently joined Morgan Stanley as a Financial Advisor, after spending the past 17 years at Wells Fargo as an attorney and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies. Our team at Morgan Stanley, the Fenimore Hurt Group, specializes in helping people with their personal finances, reducing the anxiety they have about their money. We give them time back in their lives so they can focus on what’s important to them: families, careers and passions. We sit down with people to understand what’s important to them and what they care about, and then identify ways to help them reach their goals.

What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?
After spending the past 17 years at Wells Fargo as an attorney and relationship manager, specializing in Executive Compensation and working for Fortune 500 companies to ensure C-suite executives received their (large) corporate payouts, I recognized that my passion was waning. I felt like I was only helping corporate America and Wall Street get richer, leaving me personally unfulfilled. Because I was fortunate to be in a stable job, I could be intentional in assessing: my strengths; my passions; the type of work environment in which I thrive; what size employer I want; what I expect from a team and colleagues. In other words, what kind of work was I going to find meaningful and do with a passion for the next 15-20 years? As a result, for the first time in my 20+ year career, I got to choose the job rather than have the job choose me.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How do you navigate that challenge?
Time management and prioritizing. What’s important? What’s urgent? What’s the best use of my time, and does that answer change if my goals are short term vs. long term? I schedule a meeting with myself for 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to plan my upcoming week. And I schedule 15 minutes on Wednesday mornings to assess if I’m on track or whether an intervening event has forced me to re-prioritize.

What advice would you give to Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?
First, ‘work / life balance’ is a misnomer . . . and sets you up to feel like you’re failing, or at least flailing! “Balance” indicates “equal” or “even distribution”. Balancing work and life is cyclical – you will spend more time on one for a while, and then the pendulum swings back the other way. When you’re starting a new role, you are going to spend significantly more energy on “work” – getting yourself up to speed, learning what the role ‘really’ is, how everything fits together, what the expectations are of you . . . but that all takes a back seat, for instance, when you are moving into a new apartment or planning a wedding.

Second, set a budget, stick to it, and save. The sooner you can start saving and investing, the more freedom you will have in making choices and decisions. Take advantage of your employer’s 401k plan; educate yourself about money. You don’t want to be haunted with financial burdens for 30+ years because of decisions you made in your early 20s.

We know that relationships are important for any kind of development. How do you build and maintain your network?
Building and maintaining a network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes effort. The high school and college environment made it relatively easy to meet people because you are surrounded by a large number of similarly-aged people. And the vast majority of your classmates were in the same season of life. After college, however, you will be working with people who are in many different stages of life: old fogeys anxiously waiting to retire; middle-aged parents battling with their teenagers’ behavior; career-focused individuals who frown upon socializing in the workplace. Most of them have very busy, scheduled-to-the-max after-work commitments, along with established social networks.

Thus, be intentional in creating a social network for yourself. Identify a couple of groups or places where you can meet people with interests and passions similar to yours, and then force yourself to go. Rarely do you meet potential new friends of any age by staying at the office late or heading home to watch TV alone. And be open-minded: your social network will come to include a wide range of folks of varying ages, backgrounds and seasons of life – all of which will bring a new richness to your life.

Tell us about your mentoring relationships. What impact have these relationships had on your career and life?
Finding mentors, even if they aren’t mentors in the formal sense, is soooo important. They give you someone to bounce ideas off and ask questions of: how does this work? What should I be aware of? Is this typical? As I look back at the various mentors I’ve had – from work, from volunteering, from church – they all had two things in common: 1) they’ve ‘been there, done that’ – giving me a perspective that often times allowed me to avoid some of the same mistakes they made. And 2) they had gotten to know me – so their advice was consistent with who I am and my values.

What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are interested in working in your industry?
Whether you are interested in working in the legal or financial industry, leverage your liberal arts education. Employers want to hire well-rounded folks who can think and problem-solve . . . and then implement a solution. They generally care very little about whether you have ‘the knowledge’ to do the job but rather whether you are capable of learning and applying what the job and work environment teaches you. I did not take one single business or accounting class while at Wake Forest. Yet I’ve spent my entire career working for a bank and an investment firm – and been very successful at both. Earning a degree from Wake Forest equips you with the tools to thrive in any industry – so take the same skills you learned at Wake and then apply them professionally.

What’s next for your career? What future goals or plans are you pursuing?
I plan to work another 15-20 years, and then retire. Our team at Morgan Stanley sits down regularly to assess our 3-5 and 7-10 year plan. How is the industry changing? How is technology affecting our jobs? What is the next generation expecting from a Financial Advisor? I love learning and applying new knowledge to my life – both personally and professionally. Not only does it grow me, but it serves my clients well. The world is constantly evolving – and I don’t want to be one of those who finds themselves left behind because I refused to embrace change.

Story published in October 2019. For current updates about Shana, visit her LinkedIn page.