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FWSF Connections Helping Dreams Come True

October 2013

Emilie with two of her clients at the summit of Kilimanjaro in September 2013Emilie Cortes’s dream is to help women make their own dreams come true...through adventure travel. You may have seen Emilie present "Women on Top: Lessons from the Mountains" for FWSF in April of 2012 or in February of 2013. She has twice wowed our audiences with her tales of adventure.

Emilie’s story illustrates the value of connecting with FWSF members and really begins in 2006 when she hired Michelle Alberda... 

For seventeen years, Emilie worked in quantitative finance and investments. She hired Michelle Alberda, who was then FWA Vice President, to manage her personal finances. Emilie said of Michelle, "I was so impressed that during her entire term as VP, she never used her position to promote herself. I reached out to her and asked her to accept me as a client even though I was below her asset minimum at the time." Emilie says that it was a decision she is still ecstatic about." Even though I have an MBA in Finance and hold both the CFA and CAIA designations, it makes such a difference to have a dedicated professional keeping an eye on your investments and financial objectives! Michelle often had a perspective that only an objective third party can have."

Outside of her work in quantitative finance and investments, Emilie began to get more and more involved in adventurous activities - hiking, backpacking, snow camping, and mountaineering. She slowly gained the confidence to step into leadership positions and led and organized domestic and international trips and expeditions over time.  She felt that she grew so much personally through those endeavors that it transformed her as a professional. "I realized I was no longer afraid of things like presenting to large audiences or delivering poor investment results during tough economic times to clients. Fear and my feelings about risk had changed dramatically after achieving tough physical goals and facing mother nature head on." 

She also noticed that when she was leading challenging trips, the male participants generally would come in with a lot of confidence, enhance their skills, and leave with increased confidence. The women would often come in worrying about whether they could do it at all, concerned they would be a burden, not believing they could hack it...with some coaching and confidence building, the women would also learn the skills and they would leave transformed and re-energized.

When the opportunity to purchase Call of the Wild Adventures arose, Emilie saw the opportunity to mix her passion and vocation for the first time while leveraging her business experience. Focusing on all women's adventure travel was the perfect fit – many of the clients are professional women who may be adventurous but have not had the time or inclination to deal with permits and logistics, and who may need that extra helping hand and words of encouragement. 

Emilie consulted with Michelle to run the cash flow scenarios and talk about financing options and investment positioning before acquiring Call of the Wild Adventures. Emilie knew she would need a real accountant and a corporate attorney to assist with the purchase of Call of the Wild. Michelle made two great recommendations: Tracy Teale of RINA Accountancy and Kim Scala of Archer Norris. – both connections Michele had made through FWSF.

The exit from the corporate world, acquisition of a new company, and transition from paid employee to first-time entrepreneur, was a challenging time for Emilie, but she felt confident with the stellar support she was receiving. The going got rough in the first few months when Emilie discovered her business partner's misuse of funds, but her FWSF team rallied to quickly work through what ended up being the world's fastest buyout and resolution of a complicated accounting situation. 

Emilie says of Kim and Tracy, "I know I am a small client for them, but you would never tell but the level of service, dedication, and responsiveness I receive. They also believe in my company's mission of empowering and inspiring women!"

When asked about the role that FWSF played in charting her new path, she said, "It's clear to me that all the women at FWSF don't run around self-promoting, and they are consummate professionals. I love that we have the opportunity to get to know each other, build friendships, and when the time is right, to build mutually beneficial business relationships."

We know Emilie’s story is one of many connection and networking stories that have played out over the 50+ years of women connecting with women through the FWSF. We’re eager to chronicle your story so please email your FWSF experiences to info@financialwomensf.org.

And to learn more about Emilie's new (ad)venture, check out Call of the Wild Adventures at www.callwild.com or email her at emilie@callwild.com. Adventures range from cushy lodging trips with activities planned during the day to challenging international treks. Emilie tells us she's already seen a few FWSF members on her trips and she'd love to meet you, too.

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