Helen Cristales Harge — Director of Administration
From a very young age, I took an interest in planning and details. Growing up in the Bronx, some of my favorite memories are of my family’s trips to Playland, a retro-themed amusement park in Rye, NY. I loved going there and we went several times each summer. I always found myself pestering my parents about which Saturdays we were going. When they finally gave me a date, I would always follow up with them a day or two prior to the big day to confirm we were actually going. I would create mental checklists in my head and actually fall asleep going over them, and sometimes even dream about them - I was the world’s first 8 year-old project manager!
The morning of the big day, I was always ready with my checklist: Step 1: wake my parents at first light to confirm we were indeed going (weather and parents’ mood permitting…); Step 2: wake up my sister, eat breakfast (accompanied by watching some morning cartoons, of course), and get ready for the day; Step 3: see if my dad needed help getting the cooler together. These were all the things I considered to be vital to make the trip a success. I naturally took on this responsibility and enjoyed it. For me, taking ownership not only encompasses things I like to do — such as planning and defining the details — readying the ship and captaining it to the destination is the key to getting things done.
My first job out of college was working as an administrative assistant at a futures brokerage firm. Just less than two months into working there, the trade desk clerk left us and I was asked to take over this new role. On my first day as the new member on the desk, I was given a booklet with the symbols used for trade tickets and futures contract specs and was expected to memorize it all. I would be lying if I said that I was not nervous when I joined the trade desk, and it wasn’t until I called in and placed my first pit order, in the crude oil market no less, that I became comfortable and felt more at home. Before long, I had systematized all of the processes shown to me and tweaked them so they could be done in less time. For electronics orders, I figured out the shortcuts for each electronic trading platform and used the least amount of keystrokes possible to place orders for each. I also memorized all actively traded account numbers, eliminating the need to ask the brokers or look them up, which became a very valuable time saver.
Shortly after taking on this the new role, I was asked to diversify my set of responsibilities, both on and off the trading desk. To accommodate some of the new duties, I earned my Series 3 license, became an Associated Person and Principal and ultimately worked with in all areas of the business.
I love the challenge of finding ways to make a process better by experimenting, learning and being creative. When I first walked into Daruma’s office, I knew it was the place for me. It had a different feel and look than your typical financial services firm; it was clear that I would thrive here. Working at Daruma has allowed me to take my interest in processes and workflows to the next level. I have learned that the small things can sometimes make the biggest difference.