Jorge Pedreira isn’t afraid to follow his passion. He began his career as a cop in the New York Police Department, and his passion eventually led him to law school and investment banking. Now, Pedreira is the chief operating officer of investment banking for the Americas at Nomura. He spoke with Hispanic Executive about the experience of transitioning from blue to pinstripes.
Hispanic Executive: Was it difficult to transition from police officer to lawyer?
Jorge Pedreira: Was it difficult for me to make the switch from police officer, to attorney, to banker? I wish I had the perfect romantic answer, but I don’t. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided to do one thing or the other. It was a natural progression based on the facts and circumstances at the time, and what I was doing. I’m a person who loves a challenge, and I think as I move and grow, the title becomes less important to what you are actually doing. It comes down to personal satisfaction and what I like to do every time.
Yes, I loved being a cop. I was very proud of being a cop. When I got promoted to detective, it was one of the happiest days of my life. When I graduated law school at the same time, I also was very happy and very proud of the fact that I was at the top of my class and managing editor of the law review. I also was proud when I went to work for one of the top Wall Street law firms. I always have showed that I am a person who can adapt quickly, take the challenge, and I like it. Did I miss being a cop? Probably. I have a lot of funny stories and good memories from when I was a detective, but then I grew into something different, and the something different was more in the business world with complex transactions, complex negotiations, which was definitely more challenging from an intellectual standpoint.
HE: Do you miss being in the police force?
JP: The police department was an exciting time of my life. I made very good friends that I still keep in touch with today. I had very exciting times, but I am very happy with the great job and great responsibility I have now. I do it every day with a smile on my face. Do I have a lot of memories from the NYPD that I share with others? Sure, but my life experiences have got me here. I’ve worked very hard for it, and I’m proud of what I do. I miss high school, too, but that doesn’t mean I want to go back to it.
HE: What were some of your biggest hurdles?
JP: I’ve had full custody of my daughter since she was four years old, and I had to juggle that and being an attorney in a Wall Street firm, working very hard and long hours. It was definitely a challenge, but a beautiful challenge, to raise my daughter. And, sometimes I probably was physically tired. I also think that I always had to prove myself, as a cop and as a lawyer. Maybe it’s because I didn’t go the traditional route, but that’s part of life. Maybe it would have been easier, but I don’t think it would have been as exciting.
HE: What advice do you have for others considering a change in career path?
JP: Making a career change is a personal thing. Would I recommend working in a Wall Street law firm for sixteen hours a day, sometimes seven days a week? It depends. You have to like it. You have to be ambitious, and you have to be willing to make the sacrifice. Whatever career you have, you need to be patient and tactical. You cannot just back away because there’s a challenge. You cannot back away because someone doesn’t like you or someone is against you. You have to live your dream and believe in yourself. It won’t always work out the way you want it to work, but you have to be okay with that. You have to take things head on and be honest about it. Be yourself and work hard. If you have the capacity to do it, you shouldn’t say no just because you haven’t gone the traditional way. I didn’t, and I’m happy with the outcome.