Section Image: Shaddock Auditorium with David Russell and Maria Walker

Against All Odds: Maria Walker, Board Member and former CFO, Inspires with Grit and Determination

Before a room filled with students, faculty and staff, Maria Walker described her personal experience and shared advice on overcoming challenges and breaking through barriers to achieve a successful career as a leader in finance.

May 15, 2024

By TCU Neeley School of Business

The final Against All Odds speaker series for the academic year featured Maria Walker, who described her remarkable journey as a Hispanic first-generation college student, accomplished board member, and retired senior financial executive with more than 30 years of experience spanning various industries.

The Against All Odds speaker series, powered by Bank of America is hosted by TCU Neeley’s Office of Inclusive Excellence and is a program designated to amplify diverse voices in the global business community. David Russell, a member of the Neeley Board of Advisors, served as the moderator and kicked off the event asking Walker to define grit.

David Russell and Maria Walker on stage in the Shaddock Auditorium

“When you think about grit, you think about the people who when there’s something to be done, they step up to do it,” Walker told the auditorium filled with students, faculty and staff. “They don’t complain. They see it, and instead of seeing all the obstacles, they think through how you are going to finish it and they own it. It’s never waiting on someone to make it happen.”

Walker began the speaker series by describing her beginnings in California, where she grew up as the youngest child in a household led by her mother. She quickly learned that it would take personal initiative to get what she wanted in life.  

Audience members participate and ask questions with mobile microphone

“The odds were not pointing at me sitting here today,” Walker said. “You learn that if you need something or want something, you have to make it happen yourself. You just have to do it yourself,” Walker said. “If you learn those lessons early enough, you start doing things other young kids are not doing.”

In high school, Walker had a job as a bookkeeper. The experience led her to get a degree in Economics and a highly successful career as an accountant.

David Russell, Maria Walker and Ann Tasby

At KPMG, she served as senior partner and global lead partner of private equity. Most notably, as a founding partner and CFO of Patient Square Capital, a healthcare-focused private equity firm, Walker and her co-founders successfully raised $3.9 billion, marking the largest private equity fund ever raised by a first-time fund manager.

Learn more about Walker and her story by watching this edition of the Against All Odds speaker series.