5 Questions For: Melissa Joos, Specialist, CohnReznick Advisory
In recognition of Women’s History Month, Melissa Joos, Specialist – Advisory, spoke with Tracy Fink, Director –CohnReznick’s Executive Women’s Forum. Based in New York City, Melissa’s primary role is to facilitate communications among members of the Financial Sponsors team. Melissa is a self-taught engineer and provides wording, documentation and software systems to ensure that her team has the proper tools and consistent messaging to go to market.
Q: What is your super power?
A: Communication is one of my strongest attributes. I have the power and motivation within me to bring people together through face-to-face communication and software systems. Part of my communication power is to treat everyone with respect, from interns to the CEO. I am constantly educating myself and follow the news to find out what’s trending in technology, finance, competitive markets, and culture. I share that information with leaders at the Firm so that we stay relevant.
Q: Who are your mentors?
A: I’ve worked a lot with men in my career, and not surprisingly, most of my mentors are men. At CohnReznick, Jeremy Swan is a mentor as well as a sponsor. He has seen the value of my work and promoted me last year to Specialist. Keith Denham, Managing Principal and National Director – CohnReznick Advisory Group, is also a mentor. Because of Keith’s close relationship with Jeremy, it was a natural fit for us to build a trusting relationship. Keith recognized my ability to educate myself, especially when I developed the skills to run the Innovation Lab. We work very closely to make sure whoever comes to the iLab has a positive experience. Keith and I both focus on external branding not being only work-centric, but community-centric. We are committed to the mission of Year Up, to bring diverse interns into the Firm and prepare them to ultimately become full-time employees.
Q: How do you support women in your field?
A: I am self-empowered and I look for opportunities to share my story to empower others. We need to support each other and communicate our value. As a woman and engineer, I see the landscape slowly changing as more women rise in the leadership ranks, but we need to do more to show our individual value. I’m not intimidated by titles and often have meaningful conversations with individuals in high-level executive positions. We are all humans and can connect on a variety of topics. Find relationships that add value to your life and work.
Q: How do you push yourself through tough times?
A: I always see the light at the end of the tunnel and treat hard times as learning experiences. There is a way to transform any issue into a positive one. Hard times don’t last; what matters is how you deal with issues while you are experiencing hard times to show what you’re made of.
Q: I know you have spent time volunteering. Tell us about that.
A: I volunteer for an organization called Part of the Solution, or POTS. It’s located in the Bronx, and I got to them through CohnReznick Cares. Most of what I do is cook and serve food. I love seeing how other people live and talking with them to get their point of view and perspective. It has brought me a new understanding of myself as well as others. I appreciate what I have and I worked hard for it all, paying my own way. I want to share my story to inspire others and help them find a way out of poverty.
As an engineer, I am problem solver. I learn and teach software systems and, in the process, incorporate the human experience into it. I want to understand your needs and how the tools I’m developing can serve others. Most people in business are problem solvers. We are not only about the money, as we are sometimes portrayed. My motivation is being of service and creating good lines of communication to help others.
Bonus Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I live in a French chateau in Westchester. I am proud of my orchid, which has bloomed steadily for the last three months. The last books I read were: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.