Celebrating Native American Heritage Month
Nicole Johnny is an Analyst with REDW’s Valuation & Related Financial Services team with more than a decade of experience with investment banking in capital markets and bond financing, and in preparing real estate valuations for Tribal Nations and businesses on and off Tribal land. Her work includes researching appraisal data to determine the market value of Tribal properties nationwide and performing market trend analyses. A committed member of the Navajo Nation, Nicole also serves on the Audit Committee of the Diné Development Corporation’s Board to help oversee its business activities and financial health. She holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and has passed licensing exams for SIE® Series 50 and 52 securities.
Q: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING AS A PROFESSION?
It sounds a bit odd, but finance picked me. What I mean is that I switched my majors quite a few times during my undergrad years and it took interviewing with various departments within the business school before a finance professor showed me that I could do well in the finance department. Before that, my interaction with finance was very limited, I played the stock market game in high school but beyond that didn’t know too much about it.
“My curiosity was piqued and finance was the one subject that I found equally challenging and proud to accomplish. Implementing it into a career with my education in finance and economics, I started realizing that tribes had investments in the stock market and I wanted to help with their portfolios.”
Q: HOW DO YOU WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY THAT YOU CAME FROM?
I owe a lot of life’s teachings to my mom, grandma, and family. They always remind me that my education and knowledge should be used to uplift our community. Throughout the years, there’s been creative ways in giving back from working directly with the Tribe itself and offering my skills to providing expertise and technical skills to Navajo entrepreneurs and tribal business entities. Now, I’d like to give back by continuing to support the efforts underway in building the Navajo economy through entities like Change Labs and other entities that work to support indigenous businesses.
Q: AS AN EMERGING LEADER AT REDW, WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE?
The future is bright – we have so many incredible and talented Navajo people that we all have a way to make our communities flourish. My hope is that when making decisions that we center the teachings of sa’ah naghei bik’ehozhon.
Q: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY TO OTHER NATIVE AMERICANS INTERESTED IN THIS FIELD, ESPECIALLY OUR YOUNGER INDIVIDUALS?
“You belong in those classes, in those upper division classes that you hear are difficult to pass—you belong in higher education institutions. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.”
There is room for you in the finance industry, more than enough room actually. Finance is such a wide and vast industry that there is a place for you—it is a place where you can be a positive influence.