Getting Ahead

Here’s How This VP Grew Her Career at a Firm That Champions Internal Mobility

person with long black hair sitting in a garden
Lymari Arkins, a VP in the project management office of BlackRock's Technology and Operations team.
| Courtesy of BlackRock

When Lymari Arkins joined BlackRock almost 11 years ago as an administrative assistant to the Global Head of Technology, she saw it as the start to a long and multifaceted career at the global investment management firm.

“I was aware that BlackRock championed internal mobility and had seen evidence of it myself,” Arkins says. “A friend of mine worked at BlackRock for seven years prior to encouraging me to apply. Observing her progression, along with the opportunities she was afforded, convinced me to join the company.”

In the time since, Arkins has benefited from the firm’s commitment to helping employees learn and grow. With the support of her managers, she was able to try out roles on various teams—and has now found a great fit as a vice president in the project management office within the Technology and Operations (T&O) team.

“Regardless of my position, job role, or title, I have always leaned into organizing an effort and ensuring it’s successful,” she says. “This skill has brought me success and led me into project management. It’s a natural fit for my strongest qualities.”

Tell us about your career trajectory at BlackRock. How does it exemplify the way the firm champions internal mobility?

While I enjoyed my role as an administrative assistant, I was curious about other opportunities and paths at BlackRock. During my year-end review in that role, my manager at the time encouraged me to push myself out of my comfort zone. He looked for opportunities for me and helped make connections that would enable me to experience working with other teams.

I spent the next six months continuing with my administrative duties while simultaneously helping the external audit team. I was offered a position on the team; however, it didn’t feel like a good fit for me. My manager suggested exploring the project management team. He believed I had the skills to learn the work and be successful in this space. He was right!

What kinds of learning and development opportunities are available at BlackRock?

In addition to the development resources provided through BlackRock Academies, there are various avenues for learning. Many of our employee networks sponsor "Ask Me Anything" events and fireside chats with influential and inspiring leaders across the firm.

In my experience, the best opportunities for learning and development are through the people here at BlackRock. Throughout the years, my colleagues and mentors have provided immeasurable insights and knowledge. In addition, there are programs such as the Emerging Talent Program (ETP) and Professional Preparation for Elevated Leadership (PROPEL), which I’m currently participating in. These programs are part of the firm’s commitment to investing in its people.

What are you responsible for in your role?

As a member of the project management office within the Technology and Operations business, I lead all merger and acquisition (M&A) activity—supporting the technology platforms, enterprise services, information security, and data and artificial intelligence functions, as well as large-scale, cross-functional initiatives.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

We’ve recently been working on the integration of BlackRock’s acquisition of Aperio Group LLC, which was announced in November 2020 and officially closed in February 2021. My team has now onboarded all employees and moved the firm to the BlackRock technology stack, including a new office in Sausalito, CA. I am also part of the 50 Hudson Yards project management team, coordinating the technology delivery for various teams for our new headquarters in New York. It’s an honor to be part of this effort.

What do you like most about working in the Wilmington office and its company culture?

The Wilmington office stands out because of its culture. As one of the leads of the Delaware Events Committee, I partner closely with the head of the Wilmington office to create events that foster and continue to strengthen the culture here.

Also unique to the Wilmington office is our partnership across networks. We ensure that we are creating opportunities and events that are aligned with one another’s—and the firm’s—mission and purpose. It has served us well during the pandemic in being able to bring the entire Wilmington team together virtually when we were not able to have the in-person events our colleagues had grown accustomed to.

What skills and traits does it take to succeed on the Technology and Operations team?

I would start with having a good work ethic and being able to build relationships. The work is challenging but the opportunities are endless! Have a problem-solving mindset and seek out solutions. Bring your strengths to the table and partner with your colleagues to support BlackRock’s mission and principles. That is the foundation that makes this team successful. In my experience, especially in the M&A space, the T&O teams always rise to the challenge to solve the most complex issues.

What can a candidate interested in joining BlackRock do to stand out?

Confidence and authenticity will really help you shine and stand out. Understand the BlackRock Principles, as they are key to how the firm operates. BlackRock is interested in growing talent for the firm, so express your desire and willingness to learn and be open to new opportunities. Be the kind of person who “raises their hand” for those opportunities.

Tell us about your involvement with BlackRock’s Latinx employee network, SOMOS, and how it’s been an integral part of your experience at BlackRock.

I joined the SOMOS Latinx & Allies Network when it was initially formed and attended some of the global virtual events. I am very excited that it is now being mobilized in Delaware and I have volunteered to be part of the Delaware Leadership Committee for SOMOS. Last year, the Delaware employee networks came together to create a fun virtual fair where each network sponsored an event, and SOMOS co-sponsored a cocktail mixing class. I’m looking forward to creating additional events together in the coming months.

What advice do you have for those looking to pursue a career path similar to yours?

My advice is to be intentional but remain flexible and agile. Take advantage of the opportunities offered that you may not have been expecting. Be on the lookout for mentors, advocates, and sponsors, and humbly take their advice and guidance. Your skill sets are the foundation, but you must continue to learn and grow and build your brand and relationships to crack open those opportunities for success.

Updated 10/4/2021