Women Investment Professionals

Key Take-Aways: Professional Development Event 9/8/2020

The Road to Leadership: How Did She Do It? The Voice of a Female Leader

On September 8, 2020, WIP hosted the first of this year’s professional development series for 2020: The Road to Leadership. We invited four female leaders to share the stories of their careers, and the key lessons they learned as they progressed in their careers.

Our speakers were Johara Farhadieh, executive director and chief investment officer of the Illinois State Board of Investment; Margo Cook, CFA, former president of Nuveen Advisory; Christine Smith, chief operating officer at Legal and General Investment Management Americas; and Tricia Rothschild, CFA, president of Apex Clearing. The panel was moderated by Jane Marcus, senior client partner at Korn Ferry.

Below are some of the key takeaways they shared.

  • Ask for what you want. Although your managers may want what’s in your best interest, it’s always important to advocate for yourself. Be articulate and assertive and be clear about your career goals.
  • Take on as much as you can. Take advantage of opportunities to expand your position, enhance your career and increase your skillset.
  • Leverage mentor and sponsorship programs at your company. And understand the difference between the two:
  • Mentors are usually assigned by the company to meet with you regularly, usually one-on-one, and provide guidance and advice.
  • Sponsors use their own political capital to support you by, for example, bringing you into their meetings with senior leadership, highlighting your skillset and advocating on your behalf.
  • Don’t be a bystander. If you see something that needs fixing, take the initiative to do it.
  • Consider more education. Take advantage of your company’s tuition to reimbursement program to pursue your MBA or CFA or another relevant degree.
  • Learn from your failures. Be open to constructive feedback and be compassionate with yourself. Know that you are stronger than you think you are.
  • Be who you are. Find the right balance between showing your vulnerability and your strength. Remain true to who you are, and find people who make you feel like your authentic self.
  • Build relationships, including with recruiters.
  • Ask yourself important questions before you accept a new job. These include:
  • Will the firm respect my skillset?
  • Is this a place where I can add value?
  • Will they will give me opportunities to grow?
  • What is the demographic make-up of the firm?
  • Are they open to a diverse population?
  • Pay it forward. Take responsibility to help and be a resource to others, especially other women.
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