How can women rise to the top of a career in finance? Emma Douglas, LGIM's Head of DC, spills the beans about life, work, and using the untried and untested to broaden your horizons...
1. If you could give one piece of advice to women starting a career in finance, what would it be?
Don’t be scared to volunteer yourself. But my main piece of advice would be to embrace technology as much as possible, as I really see it shaping the future of the industry and — specifically — defined contribution (DC) pensions*. Keeping up to date with technology innovations could give you the edge to help you stand out.
*In a DC pension, the beneficiary, or employee, and their employer, contribute money to be invested in financial markets, which will be paid out to them as their pension. Therefore, the size of their final pension pot depends on market performance, rather than the employee receiving a guaranteed pay out from their employer each year.
Don’t underestimate how much you can learn from different organisations and working in another geography
2. For women underway in their career what’s your top tip to help them progress to the top?
Get a variety of experience. People often think it’s good to progress in one company. I would say: don’t underestimate how much you can learn from different organisations and working in another geography. I’ve mainly worked in asset management, however, I worked at an employee benefit consultancy for three years in the middle of my career, before moving back to asset management. I was able to bring with me a new breadth of experience and knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
3. What do you think is the single most material factor in your success?
Resilience. One thing I have learnt is that not everything will go to plan, and quite often it doesn’t. Pick yourself up, keep going and remind yourself that you’re doing a great job. Keeping a positive attitude helps everything to work out in the end, even if the journey wasn’t as you had planned.
4. If you could go back in time and change one thing about your career path what would it be?
I would have liked to have worked in another country. Countries like the US and Australia have been living in a DC world for so much longer than we have in the UK, and it would have been great to experience and learn from them. When I was doing my MBA I spent a term at Emory Business School in Atlanta and it was fantastic to live in a new place and experience a different way of learning.
It is important to have other things in life outside of work
5. How do you balance being a mother with your career?
When my daughter was younger, I made a conscious point of making the time to see her every morning and every evening. Now she’s older and her routine is a lot more flexible, that gives me a bit more flexibility as well. In general though, I tend to avoid work-related evening events where possible and do my best to keep our weekends as family time. I’m very lucky, as my husband is a theatre producer and his hours are a lot more flexible, so he can do the school drop-off and pickups, which also means Tara gets some valuable time with her Dad.
6. Are there any tips you would give working women that hope to start a family?
Go for it! The pleasure and fulfilment that having a child brings is immense. You will be able to find your way around balancing a career and being a parent. I truly believe that it is important to have other things in life outside of work that you are passionate about, and for me that’s being a Mum.
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