Real PeopleReal People

Virginia S. Bauer
Virginia S. Bauer
Education: Red Bank Catholic High School/Rosemont College
HomeTown: Red Bank
Occupation: [Former] CEO and Secretary of the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth & Tourism Commission

Virginia S. Bauer

Virginia S. Bauer is [the former] CEO and Secretary of the NJ Commerce, Economic Growth & Tourism Commission, the state agency that helps New Jersey's economy grow. In addition to holding top positions at Commerce and previously with the State Lottery, Ginny made headlines in 2001 when her husband, David Bauer, a Cantor Fitzgerald executive, was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11th.

Ginny grew up in Little Silver, Monmouth County as the eldest of five children. All through high school she had jobs, from babysitting at age 11 to afternoons and weekends as a cashier at the A&P in Little Silver. She graduated from Red Bank Catholic High School and Rosemont College before immediately landing a job with a Merrill Lynch training program. Women in the financial services industry? It wasn't too common back then. But Ginny rose to the top, becoming a financial planning and account management executive.

Here's some advice that Ginny shares with her own children: "My first job out of college was with Merrill Lynch, which I sort of just fell into. I went and applied and got a job at an entry-level position. I spent seven years there and built a very successful career in the financial services industry. I was one of the few and first account executives with Merrill. I was able to beat all the men. Then for the next 16 years I stayed home to take care of my three children, who are now 20, 18 and 16. I tell them all the time not to be afraid to take chances. The truth is that you can really do anything you set your mind to. Who would have thought that at 45, after 16 years of staying home taking care of my family, that I would be Secretary of Commerce for the state of New Jersey? You have to learn to have confidence in yourself and know yourself. Most people will make changes in their careers these days because we change. I'm a different person now than I was when I was 22. Your interests and skills evolve. My life changed dramatically on September 11th when my husband was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. I could have sat home and thought about what my life used to be like, but instead I took advantage of opportunities and decided to move ahead."