My Road to Wall Street

A Message from Tiffany Bass Bukow, Founder & CEO of

tiffany_bukow Throughout my life, I have enjoyed significant financial success and endured surprising financial failure. Dealing with the success was easy. Dealing with the failure was not, especially when it was unexpected. I have had to challenge my values and work hard to continue to succeed while learning from failure. And I discovered that friends who had been in similar circumstances were my greatest source of motivation.

I hope that’s Success Stories provide you with the same inspiration I received from my friends. Each week, we will profile a remarkable woman who has confronted financial obstacles and overcome challenges to lead a happy, financially secure, and meaningful life.

If you’d like to share your success story, please e-mail us at [email protected].

My Road to Wall Street

By Marlene Jupiter


marlene_jupiterI started my adult life as a pre-med student at Cornell majoring in nutrition because I believed that I wanted to focus on preventative medicine. After a brief stint at a hospital in Chicago, I realized that I couldn’t handle blood or the sadness related to practicing medicine.

Unsure of my next step, I left my internship and returned to New York City. I found myself remembering a date I’d had at Cornell with a guy named Adam. Adam had mentioned a financial instrument called options, explaining that anyone with just a little money could turn it into a great deal of money. I was immediately intrigued, since I had no money.

Without a clue but full of hope, I headed for Wall Street to find a job working with options. At an employment agency in midtown Manhattan, I discovered that in spite of a Cornell education, I was only qualified to be a secretary. Luckily, I could type 70 words a minute, and I was offered a job at Paine Webber, in their Options Division. I believed I’d hit gold!

I worked hard, getting in at 7:30 a.m., leaving at 6:00 p.m., and doing every menial chore imaginable. I went on soda and cigarette runs, ordered lunch for the traders, collated, typed, and made coffee–everything but pick up the trash. One day while a salesman dictated a letter to me about his ski house, I noticed a linear program on his desk. I asked him how options could be priced using a linear program. He was surprised that I even knew the word linear, and then I told him I’d studied at Cornell University. He almost fell over from the shock of dictating a letter to a graduate of a school that he’d been rejected from. Ironically, he became my first ally who went to bat for me and wanted to bring me onto the institutional sales desk. My desk told him that I didn’t have what it takes to make it on Wall Street, so I was denied a chance to move up at Paine Webber. It was apparent that I’d hit a glass ceiling, and after passing the Series 7 exam, I found a headhunter who secured a job for me as a trading assistant at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, where I eventua