Kirstein, IST alumna, blazes path at BNY Mellon

Mae Sevick
October 20, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “I’ve always had a passion for technology. I love tinkering with new gadgets,” said Darah Kirstein, a 2007 graduate of Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST.)

Kirstein, vice president of the technology services group at BNY Mellon, currently works as the digital workplace employee engagement lead. She joined BNY Mellon in 2007 as an associate in the firm's Information Technology Leadership Development Program, and in just a few short years has risen through the ranks. She now leads a group of more than 300 digital workplace advocates and is responsible for engaging with more than 50,000 BNY Mellon employees about their technology experiences.

Kirstein is not only dedicated to personal success, but also to strengthening the position of women in technology. Her passion has motivated her to lead a “Lean In Circle” for all interns and new hires within technology at BNY Mellon. The group is part of a movement inspired by principles laid out by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

“It’s a bonus to work for the 2015 top company for women in technology," Kirstein said. "As a Lean In Circle lead, I enjoy building relationships with other women in the field and serving as a guide for their transition into the workforce.”

Kirstein’s smarts and vision led to her selection as a “reverse mentor” to Gerald Hassell, the chairman and chief executive officer of BNY Mellon. Reverse mentoring, in which junior employees pair with company leadership to expand leaders’ knowledge of new trends, practices and cutting-edge technologies, has taken off in recent years. Companies from GE to Cisco and Hewlett Packard to BNY Mellon have joined the reverse mentoring trend, understanding that in a world in constant flux, each new generation of hires has important knowledge and insights to share.

“Gerald is very aware that technology is a total game changer in our industry,” said Kirsetin. “BNY Mellon is the investment company for the world with $28.5 trillion in assets under custody and/or management. Successful businesses have to react intelligently — and quickly — to the market forces at play and understand and interpret the role technology plays for the business and our clients.”

Kirstein is quick to point out the mutual growth and learning that occurs in any mentoring relationship — reverse or traditional.

“I have learned that one can never stop learning, even with years of experience, and a prestigious title to accompany that," she said. "Gerald asks great questions. He is willing to go outside of his comfort zone, and he is very eager to keep learning. I want to remember that throughout my career.”

Kirstein’s degree from IST has given her a solid background in technology and a deep understanding of people, both of which have been vital to her success.

“I still remember that the easiest way to describe IST is a cross between people, technology and business. I like that balance,” she said. “People energize me. Technology energizes me. It’s a win-win.”

When asked what advice she would give to current students, Kirstein quoted author Don Miguel Ruiz: “Be impeccable with your word. Never make assumptions. Don’t take anything personally. And always do your best.”

  • Darah Kirstein, a 2007 graduate of IST and vice president of technology services group at BNY Mellon

    Darah Kirstein, a 2007 Penn State IST graduate, is vice president of the technology services group at BNY Mellon.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated October 20, 2015