The SEC spotlights its Caribbean American Heritage Committee (CAHC) Co-Chair Harvey Persaud. Let’s learn more about Harvey, his involvement with the CAHC and his role as Senior Staff Accountant in the SEC’s Division of Examinations.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your background and what drew you to working at the SEC?
A: I worked for FINRA prior to coming to the SEC and focused on ensuring our member firms and FINRA registered professionals followed NASDAQ and NYSE rules. My role at the SEC has been focused on investor protection, which I find more personally satisfying and challenging. My work involves monitoring and analyzing risks to accounts at two of the largest retail brokerages in the country, so we are on the front lines of investor protection.
Q: At the SEC, we emphasize the importance of mentorship, sponsorship, and internships as conduits for creating personal and professional opportunities. Is there a person, experience or event that was pivotal to helping you get to where you are today?
A: My dad came to the U.S. on a student visa as an immigrant from Guyana, South America. After he graduated from Howard University, he took a job as an electrical engineer at Pepco (the local electric utility company) and worked there until retirement. I always admired his loyalty and dedication. I asked him why he never left Pepco, and he said his co-workers were like family and he enjoyed going to work every morning, so he never felt the urge to leave. I get that same feeling here at the SEC!
Q: There are only a few federal agencies that have a Caribbean American employee affinity group. Can you tell us more about the background of the CAHC or anything you’d like to share about it?
A: The CAHC was a small group when we first started. As we kept inviting interesting speakers to our CAHC events, we started to grow. We then started to do more community outreach because many of us with Caribbean heritage hail from small neighborhoods that tend to have a sense of community. In this regard, we decided to partner with the District of Columbia Division of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) to conduct investor education outreach to local residents with the help of our Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA). We also reached out to local small businesses to educate them on avenues of capital formation with help from our Division of Corporation Finance. Of course, the pandemic slowed our outreach efforts, but we plan to continue when it’s safe. We take pride in really helping our local community prosper!
Q: What unique perspectives do you bring to your role as Co-Chair of the SEC’s Caribbean American Heritage Committee that you may draw upon to help enhance diversity, equity and inclusion both internally at the agency and externally in the community that we serve?
A: During our community outreach efforts with OIEA, Corporation Finance, Enforcement, and Economic and Risk Analysis, it was very gratifying to see the diversity of the SEC on full display to the community. I feel that the SEC has many talented people from a variety of backgrounds, and it’s wonderful to have the public see that the people at our agency reflect the diversity in the community. I think this can go a long way toward enhancing our diversity and inclusion efforts.
I feel that the SEC has many talented people from a variety of backgrounds, and it’s wonderful to have the public see that the people at our agency reflect the diversity in the community.
Division of Examinations Senior Accountant and CAHC Co-Chair at the SEC
Q: What has been most rewarding in your role as Co-Chair of the SEC’s Caribbean American Heritage Committee?
A: In 2019, Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas. The CAHC organized a donation drive and we were able to donate critical care items to those impacted by Dorian. When we went to drop off all the donations we collected, a Bahamian embassy staff member said, “I had no idea the SEC was involved with helping Caribbean countries.” I responded, “We like to help all.”
Q: What barriers have you encountered on your career path, and what advice might you give to help others overcome similar barriers?
A: As part of our Division of Examinations’ Office of Large Firm Monitoring, we meet with many senior executives from the country’s largest broker-dealers to analyze various risks. These are large and complex firms. Many of these meetings may not be as diverse as they could be, but I try not to focus on that. Instead, I occasionally remind myself that I have earned the right to be in that seat because of my hard work. And that would be the advice I would give to overcoming barriers.
Q: What hobbies/interests do you enjoy outside of work?
A: I have a wide range of hobbies: gardening, cooking and working on my cars. I have been practicing organic vegetable gardening for years, and I think I am starting to get the hang of it! I also enjoy cooking Caribbean dishes I grew up enjoying as a child and teenager. This also allows me to spend a lot of kitchen time with my parents. Lastly, I still own my first car (a Nissan 300ZX) that I bought after graduating college. It has over 400,000 original miles and still runs pretty good, but that’s because I have to figure out ways to keep it running!
Modified: April 6, 2023