A headshot photo of Laurinda.

'03, MBA '08

Managing Director and General Manager
United Airlines Cobrand Cards at JP Morgan Chase

1. Where has life taken you since graduating from Fuqua?

Upon graduation, I started my post-MBA career at American Express in Financial Services, marketing credit cards and travel. In the last 15 years, I have come full circle to now serve as the general manager of the United Airlines co-brand credit card business as a managing director at JPMorgan Chase (JPMC). Between these two windows of time in financial services, I spent several years at Walmart headquarters in my home state, being close to family as my father’s health was declining.

Just before I made the transition from Walmart to JPMC, I was diagnosed with a rapidly spreading breast cancer that led my oncologists to recommend a bilateral mastectomy. Having lost my mother to leukemia two weeks before starting my Fuqua education (2006), losing my oldest sister within months of graduating from Fuqua to breast cancer (2008), and then losing my father within 18 months of starting my role at Walmart (2013) has led me to prioritize my family and health more after Fuqua than I ever did before. Ultimately, it led me to become a single mother by choice and have my daughter via IVF after overcoming my own health challenges. These critical life experiences have shaped me into a business leader who tries to live up to the Fuqua mantra of being a “Leader of Consequence,” where I strive to ensure that the businesses I lead are ethical, profitable, and impactful to society. As a Black woman, this means that racial and gender equity have been critical priorities for my work in financial services.

2. You have been recognized as a changemaker among female leaders in finance and a strong proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) through several roles at JPMorgan Chase. What is the most fulfilling aspect of the blend of your roles?

In the recent years of my career, I am honored to be trusted to lead large multi-billion dollar businesses as I know there aren’t many business leaders who look like me with this large-scale responsibility. I grew up in a household of faith, so I’ve always believed that “to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). This has led me to try to grow businesses wisely in order to expand my impact. In my time at JPMC, there have been two truly rewarding experiences:

1. As general manager of the co-brand card with United Airlines, we collaborate on several DEI initiatives. My favorite is where we partnered to launch scholarships for students to attend United Aviate Academy, United’s wholly-owned flight school located in Goodyear, Arizona. These scholarships unlock career paths for women and people of color by enabling them to attend United’s flight school through our work with six non-profit organizations. This gives me a great sense of pride, given my love of travel and my personal knowledge of the history of travel not always being inclusive. My parents were born in the 1930s and weren’t welcomed in hotels for most of their lives when they would travel across America, and neither of them could afford a flight until I was in college in the 90s.

2. The other rewarding experience was during my first few years at JPMC when AARP was one of the co-branded businesses that I led. As financial fraud was on the rise, with identity theft targeting elderly and vulnerable persons at an increasingly rapid rate, my team partnered with the AARP Foundation to create videos and tutorials along with in-person training sessions hosted across America to help customers understand digital banking and how to identify potential scammers. This program had concluded just before the pandemic began, so it was a great resource available in Spanish and English when several elderly and vulnerable customers suddenly needed to learn how to bank digitally when it was no longer safe for them to go to their local branch in person.


3. You have encouraged fellow professionals not to be intimidated and to speak up in situations where they are the only person in the room like them. Will you tell us about a time when you spoke up?

Speaking of the pandemic, I often remember the week of Memorial Day in 2020 when George Floyd was murdered. For most of that week, I was closely following the evolving news stories and was very distracted from my day-to-day work responsibilities, but I also felt very self-conscious about not being political or discussing issues regarding race at work during this volatile time. On the Friday of that week, I had a series of leadership meetings after the city of Minneapolis was set on fire by protesters. As my colleagues based in the UK asked me questions about what was unfolding on my side of the Atlantic Ocean, my answers became more and more sincere as the conversation went on to the point of my sharing my growing concern for the safety of my family members given the environment in America.

Following that discussion, where I eventually ended up in tears before transitioning to business topics, I reached out to the chief human resources officer of the card business, and we developed a plan to curate mental health sessions for employees – especially employees who belong to the business resource group for Black employees. The following Monday, I was asked to join a meeting with the card executive team to share my perspective on what I thought employees might need to feel seen and heard since I was very vocal that this was not a good time for managers to remain silent on an issue that may seem politically polarizing. Within days, I was asked to speak at a town hall to our global consumer lending business alongside our division CEO and other business leaders, where I shared my perspective on the history of racism in America. That discussion led to several leaders asking me to join their town halls and countless meaningful 1:1 discussions with colleagues who admitted that they had never paused to think about the challenges facing Black and Brown communities in America. Through sharing my personal story and perspective, I was able to unlock empathy and learning opportunities for many colleagues that have ultimately made our work environment more inclusive and socially aware.


4. What is your advice to companies and professionals looking to encourage positive change within their organizations?

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” so I would encourage them to take the first step toward sincere, open, candid dialogue. It can be a 1:1 conversation with a colleague with a different background, like my British colleagues who asked me questions, or a team meeting, like when I was asked to meet with our card executive team. Those moments prepare you for having town hall discussions, book club chats, and other formats for learning, exploration, and empathy. The organizational courage and culture that we established in the wake of George Floyd’s murder allowed our card line of business to have an immediate response to Stop Asian Hate when new cultural issues arose in the following months for another underrepresented community.


5. As a former Fuqua Alumni Council member and DEI professional, what are your hopes for Fuqua and for students starting out in their careers?

I am a business leader who is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I hope that all business leaders care about equity and fairness for all. If we all see ourselves as responsible for creating a more equitable world, then we can hopefully reach a point where that is reality and no longer a dream once articulated by Martin Luther King Jr.


6. What does #TeamFuqua mean to you?

#TeamFuqua means that we are stronger together than we are individually and that we can all learn something from one another, so let’s work together and collaborate.