8 Questions with Olga Starr, Financial Planner at Skylight’s Columbus Office


December 12, 2016

She’s a published author who loves numbers and finds American bikes uncomfortable!  In the latest of our “Making It Personal” Q&A series, we discover a little more about Olga Starr, Senior Associate and Financial Planner in our Columbus Office.

You are originally from the former Soviet Union – what brought you to the United States?

That’s right, I was born in the Soviet Union in the 70’s… Those were some interesting times. I remember that food and consumer goods were rationed, and my earliest memories are about my mom taking my 3-year-old self to a store, where we stood in a line for an hour and a half so that we could get 2 rolls of toilet paper instead of just one. To this day I cannot stand shopping! And then there was the collapse of the Soviet Union – everyone’s bank deposits mysteriously disappeared, and my parents’ life-long savings were gone overnight. I wonder if this is where my desire to work in the financial industry came from… Giving people clarity and control of their finances makes me feel almost cathartic…  When people ask me about why I left the country I grew up in, I typically respond with a question: “And out of curiosity, what do you think brought your ancestors to the US?” The typical answer is “looking for opportunities or a better life”… This is where I nod and say: “Yep, exactly!”

What do you most miss about your homeland?

Bicycles. European bikes are so much more comfortable. I feel American bike manufacturers could learn a thing or two from their European counterparts. A bicycle seat is not supposed to be shaped that way!

Have you worked in any other profession outside of financial services?

You’re asking an immigrant if I’ve worked in other professions? Too funny. I was 21 when I came to the States. Didn’t know anyone here, couldn’t really speak the language. I was, however, very motivated to survive and make it. You name a profession – I’ve done it. Fast food, hotel housekeeping, landscaping, house rehab. Drove an 18-wheeler across 48 states. I used to be embarrassed to talk about those years of extreme austerity and hard manual labor, but now that I look back at those days – you know what, I’m glad I went through it. For better or worse, it made me the person I am today.

What do you know a lot about?

Numbers and spreadsheets. I like to say that I’m able to paint visions of people’s future in numbers. A few years ago I’ve found out that most things in life can be quantified – what a relief! And I’ve made it a point to become the best quantifier you can find… Just ask my clients!

What’s it like to be a female in the financial services industry?

Sometimes I wear a tie to events just to break stereotypes. My new business closing rate is 20% higher those days.   🙂

A little-known fact about you?

My first degree is in Journalism, and I’m a published author.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited and why?

When I was 17, I wrote a story that won some prizes and was published in several countries. I was invited to promote the book in Japan. It was fascinating… Super polite people, technology from the future and octopi for dinner. What more can a 17-year-old ask for?

Tell me something you are passionate about

My partner and I rescue dogs. If there is one thing that I cannot stand, and will not stand for, is animal abuse. And overall, any sort of injustice against the weak and vulnerable.