Exploring Women’s Leadership: An Interview with Cynthia Begin ’87

By Victoria Palkon ’24

Cynthia Begin

Cynthia Begin ‘87 is an attorney and currently the first deputy commissioner at the Massachusetts Division of Banks. About her position, Cynthia says, “We are the Commonwealth’s top financial regulators, so we regulate state-chartered banks, state-chartered credit unions, and we also license and regulate a whole host of other financial service providers. I work closely with large policy issues with the commissioner who’s appointed by the governor.” Having been with the division for almost 26 years, she believes, “I have had terrific opportunities and work with some fantastic leaders. The agency has provided me with opportunities for advancement.”

Cynthia shares how her career goals have changed along the way, and her path to becoming a lawyer, “You want to have a realistic goal… but something that’s going to be challenging for you. I really didn’t think about becoming a lawyer but then I was working at a bank for a lawyer and became a paralegal. So, I moved to Boston when I was 25. I didn’t know anybody. I went to law school at nighttime and worked full time. I couldn’t afford to go to law school full time because I needed to work. Fortunately, Boston has two great law schools that had part-time evening programs, so I was able to get in and achieve that goal. Goals can change — don’t give up on them, just continue plugging forward. It was a great experience and a real accomplishment. Now when I hire lawyers and I see that people went to school at night, I know you’re a hard worker. I have a lot of respect because I know exactly what’s involved.”

Cynthia advises that upcoming female leaders, especially those in a traditionally male-dominated career, need to differentiate themselves. Coming up in her own career, she felt it “was really important trying to figure out a way to distinguish myself. I needed to demonstrate to my superiors and the leadership of the agency how I’m different than others. If you want to move ahead in an organization, you have to figure out how you can distinguish yourself, you have to show that you want to develop and move forward.”

Cynthia also shares the advice she gives her own 25-year-old daughter, who’s starting her career, “I tell her to pick out opportunities to get involved in things… volunteer to lead a project, do some research, raise your hand. No matter how small these things are, they are opportunities where you are putting yourself out there. Doing something and going above and beyond your normal job responsibilities. People will recognize that… and you’ll receive great experience.”

Cynthia has been a very connected alumna at Nichols, recently offering insights during a Money and Banking class. She appreciates the opportunity to give back as well as meet student-leaders. “I do some recruiting there as well, we’re always looking for candidates for bank examiner jobs, so students in finance, accounting, and economics.” In fact, two women on her staff are Nichols graduates. To students, Cynthia suggests, “If you want opportunities for advancement, then promote your own leadership ability and get experience as a leader.”

This interview is part of a series focused on women’s leadership, conducted by Research Associate Interns Victoria Palkon ’24 and Madison Perrotti ’23. As part of their Spring 2021 internship, the students assisted Prof. Jean Beaupre research and develop the 2021 Massachusetts Women’s Leadership Index.

Victoria is a rising sophomore concentrating in International Business with a minor in Management. In addition to being a panelist for the Institute for Women’s Leadership, she is a member of the Nichols varsity tennis team and is active in her community. She works part-time in a nursing home and in the Conant Library on campus. She is honored to be a research assistant on this project and is looking forward to continuing her education at Nichols College.

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