The Work Diary of an Executive Who Must Find Just the Right Words

A communications strategist for an investment firm, Arielle Patrick has developed playbooks for companies in the event of a crisis, like a data breach or #MeToo incident. “Companies that don’t do this are, frankly, delusional,” she said.

Arielle PatrickCredit…Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

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By Ben Ryder Howe

“I would characterize myself as Type A-minus,” said Arielle Patrick, the chief communications officer at Ariel Investments, the largest minority-owned investment firm in the United States. “I have all the capabilities of a Type A, but a penchant for comfort and laziness if left to my own devices.”

Friends of Ms. Patrick would disagree with any description of her as less than relentlessly driven — a whirlwind of social creativity and seemingly nonstop work. One of the youngest Black C-suite executives on Wall Street, Ms. Patrick, 31, has rocketed through her field since graduating nine years ago from Princeton as a classics major. (Her senior thesis explored the relationship between the Roman emperor Nero and his “publicist,” Seneca.)

Last month, she began working at Ariel, which has $14.6 billion in assets under management and is based in Chicago, with offices in New York, where Ms. Patrick lives, as well as Washington and Sydney, Australia.

Previously, Ms. Patrick worked at Edelman, the world’s largest communications consulting firm, where she rose to executive vice president in her mid-20s. At Edelman she led the team tasked with mergers, acquisitions and restructurings, advising executives and boards on “what to say to who, when, and in what way.”

The daughter of Caribbean immigrants (her father is from Curaçao and Sint Maarten, and her mother from Haiti), Ms. Patrick grew up in Manhattan and attended the Chapin School on the Upper East Side. She credits her career to “classic tiger parenting,” especially by her mother, a case manager at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Not surprisingly for someone in her field, Ms. Patrick chooses words carefully when describing her personal life. However, she also regards professional success as an opportunity to publicly advance causes dear to her, such as Yellowstone Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park, and the Frick Collection, the museum whose well-attended Young Fellows Ball she has long helped organize. This year the ball, like so many events, has been canceled, and Ms. Patrick said she was enjoying the letup in her schedule — while she plans a wedding and a move. We caught up in late December.

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