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Mid careers

Keeping talent in the pipeline

An essential component of enhancing diversity is retaining and developing what is already in the profession. Unquestionably, there is more work to do in this area.

This section of the website looks at the experience of a cross section of diverse industry members, as well as providing resources for individuals at this stage in their careers.

These initial "Days in the Lives" are of female professionals.We welcome male examples as well, please email us with your version at [email protected].

A day in the life of

Alexia Ackermann

Alexia Ackermann

My alarm goes off…

At 7.00am. I usually start the day by briefly checking the news and my emails. It allows me to start putting things in motion while I get ready and commute to the office. As our business and our clients are global, our activity never sleeps!

I’m responsible for…

Monitoring the activities of our thousands of clients on a daily basis. As well as managing our London-based team, I also have responsibility for a number of global topics as deputy head of the team worldwide. Our job is to help the sales force tailor the most suitable offering to clients, which can range from translating their investment strategies into appropriate trading limits internally to optimizing the collateral they can use with us, or simply clarifying how certain markets work and how they can best trade on them.   

As financial intermediaries between the global markets infrastructure and our asset management clients, we play an essential role ensuring the smooth and lawful functioning of the markets as well as allowing our clients access to the systems and tools to achieve their investment objectives and deliver value to the ultimate beneficiaries (pensions, savings accounts, etc.)

I got my job…

This year, I have been working at Societe Generale for 12 years, where I have been given the opportunity to hold a number of different roles. I’ve spent the last six years in the Prime Services division, first as chief operating officer and then heading the client relationship management group, where I have acquired a good knowledge of our client base and product range.

I see my new risk management role as the bridge between the two, and a key role in protecting our clients as well as our firm. This latter point is of course imperative at an institutional level, but also for our clients who, when selecting a prime broker, want to know they can trust an institution to manage their own risks in a prudent and responsible manner.

My typical day…

Is usually spent in meetings. Because risk management is a key component of many decisions in a financial institution, most meetings are about reviewing the activity of a client or a group of clients, working out how to structure new products in an optimal way and ensuring that we can meet our clients’ needs in a fast and efficient manner.

I usually try to be back home around 7pm to spend an hour with my sons before they go to bed. Two to three times a week I will work or be on conference calls with the US team for another 2 hours in the evening.

The worst part of my job…

Is finding time. For example, to read and process the hundreds of emails I receive every day. Working in a global role at an international firm means that I have to keep up with a lot of things that happen both externally and internally.

The best part of my job…

Is every time we, as a team, reach a challenging goal. The most important resource in our financial services is people, and being able to nurture talents and see them achieve something that seemed complex or even impossible to do, is the most rewarding part of what I do.

After work…

I try to keep in touch with friends and industry connections outside of the office. I regularly attend industry interest groups. I also participate in a number of senior women dinners in the City during the year. It is a great way to share our views of the market and best practices across our firms, as well as being able to discuss the challenges that we face as working mothers in senior roles in finance or elsewhere.

My Plan B: fiction writer

As long as I can remember I have written short stories for myself (spy stories, crime stories, sci-fi, chronicles, etc.). If I have a lot of time on my hands one day, I would love to try to turn one of them into a real book. Reading has always been my way of relaxing my mind and I would enjoy giving this back to the world. 

Alia ElGazzar

Alia ElGazzar

My alarm goes off…

At 6:00am…..I reach out for my Ipad. I read the FT, BBC, Bloomberg and skim my emails in no particular order. I am in the gym or running along the river by 7am.

I’m responsible for…

An acquisitions role at Aermont Capital LLP (formerly named PW Real Assets LLP).

I got the job…

After spending seven years at Morgan Stanley and more than four years at Blackstone focusing on real estate acquisitions across Europe.

Having joined Morgan Stanley as an analyst in the investment banking division, I moved to the securitization team on the proprietary desk focusing on multiple asset backed securities. With a particular interest in real estate, I moved to Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate Fund and subsequently moved to Blackstone.

Most recently, I have joined Aermont Capital.

My typical day…

My main task revolves around investing in real estate assets and real estate related businesses across Europe.

I screen investments to identify what is most compelling. Subsequently, alongside my team, we analyze market trends and build conviction around our thesis. This requires me to spend significant time covering the market and thoroughly reading about global macro-trends to find compelling investing opportunities.

My most memorable work moment…

There are too many memorable moments. Being responsible for closing some of the largest European transactions in Blackstone will be an everlasting memory. However, I am continuously trying to build new memories with evolving and changing goal posts.

The worst part of my job…

I never give up and don’t usually know when to stop.

The best part of my job…

It’s always thrilling to have an idea come to fruition and exit investments when the thesis has been proven right.

After work…

I see friends or spend time reading or watching movies. I will try to meditate or fit in a yoga class.

My Plan B:

Journalist or anchorwoman covering the Middle East but really there is no Plan B….

Lilly Wollman

Lilly Wollman

My alarm goes off…

Don’t need an alarm. I have a toddler, who is far more reliable than a piece of electronics.

I’m responsible for…

Early stage equity investments in high growth companies developing sustainable solutions and leading the transition to a low-carbon economy.  At Generation Investment Management, we back fast-growing companies driving significant advances in smart mobility, next generation energy, industrial and enterprise efficiency, food and agriculture, sustainable consumption and the built environment.  I truly believe we are in the midst of a technology-led revolution in energy.

I got my job…

I’ve always gotten hired by first figuring out exactly where I wanted to work, and then pleading my case to the company.  It’s compelling for firms to find candidates who can articulate exactly why they want to work with you.

I’ve made a few bold changes in my career.  I recently transitioned from being a distressed investor to a growth equity investor – now I have to be much more positive about the world! Convincing firms that you are able to evolve can be difficult – most people want to hire a known entity – but I think flexibility in mindset and repositioning will become increasingly important skills in tomorrow’s world of AI and job disruptions.

My typical day…

According to the WSJ, my career is already doomed by sunrise, as all successful people rise at 4am to achieve peak productivity (consuming gluten-free granola from the back seat of their chauffeured car while making a flurry of international phone calls to check in with the Far East)…

Conversely, my days are thankfully spiced with variety, sometimes more internally focused (analysis and research of companies, presentations on business models and sector roadmaps) and other times running around meeting companies, other investors, and travelling.  I try to spend one hour in the morning and one hour each evening with my toddler son.  On days when I have to work late, or have a dinner, I have my nanny bring my son in for a coffee with me at the office to substitute for my lost evening hour.  Generation is pretty unique in ensuring that flexibility for family/extra-office activities is not a woman’s thing.

My biggest work lesson learned…

I find that I am substantially happier when I can laugh with colleagues.  The most important determinate of happiness in a job is working with great people.

The worst part of my job…

In finance, you get paid to learn about so many different things (I love this).  The downside is that sometimes you feel like a Jack of All Trades, expert in none.

The best part of my job…

Monday (again, I have a toddler…).  In seriousness, the best part of my career is the platform to learn about so many different things, especially large trends which are shaping the future of the world we inhabit, and working closely with entrepreneurs to help them execute on their vision.  I recently attended Singularity University’s exec program (their graduate study program is surely the best business school out there right now…), and was amazed that I am focused everyday on the big technology evolutions the program elucidates (AI, automation, 3d printing, autonomous cars, AR/VR, etc).

After work…

I have a reverse schedule to most…I enjoy socialising during the week and spending time with my family on the weekend.  During the week you can often find me at the bar at Cecconi’s (my second home) or at my local, the Anglesea Arms.  I enjoy ballet at the ROH, concerts at Wigmore Hall, and dinner parties at friends’ places.   I’ve been thrilled recently to organise TED-style salons at home where my friends showcase their own talents and learnings to a smaller group.  On Tuesday nights, I am in German class, so that my husband and son don’t have a secret language!   I love food and do a lot of BBQing on my first baby, the Big Green Egg.  I’m also now squarely in the middle age bracket – learning to play bridge!  Often on the weekend, we are travelling (skiing is a huge passion, and I love golf), so it’s great to see friends during the week.

What I’m reading…

My latest craze is the Apollo missions…I’ve been reading anything I can on these incredible feats of engineering and courage, interlaced with a great deal of solitude.  I am also obsessed with the Sapiens version of world history…although the one question answered particularly badly in the book is why women are subservient in so many cultures across space and time.

What I’m listening to…

I’ve recently become addicted to “Talks at Google”…they bring in fantastic speakers on a whole host of subjects and put them all on youtube.  Christopher Hitchens is hilarious.

Maxime Carmingnac

Maxime Carmingnac

My alarm goes off…

At 6:30am so that I have time to see my kids before going to work. I don’t spend too much time wondering how to dress up, as the more I think about it the worst it gets.

I’m responsible for…

Managing the UK business of Carmignac, an asset management family business set up by my father 27 years ago headquartered in Paris.

I got the job…

After starting in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and in consulting at McKinsey, I was given the responsibility of investing client money buying or selling the shares, which I did for six years at Carmignac and at a hedge fund in New York. Four years ago I took on the job of managing the expansion of Carmignac in the UK.

My typical day…

The main job is managing and building up an investment team skilled at looking after the retirement savings of our million clients. It's a big responsibility and even more important because savers need to make sure that their wealth grows faster than inflation. At Carmignac we are well known for our risk management especially in the 2002 and 2008 stock markets plunges, when our main fund didn’t fall.

I have set up the “Carmignac Lab” to bring on new talent. We test fund managers for one year in realistic conditions and only then do they get to manage our clients money.

As the Managing Director of the UK business, I am responsible for 30 people. For instance the Carmignac digital team is based in London. It's job is to make us better at serving clients, investing well and running our business efficiently.

I try to avoid being on too many internal committees they are very time consuming. Fortunately at Carmignac we are small (260 employees) with an entrepreneurial mindset.

I am involved in promoting diversity. Legendary investor Warren Buffett said that his success was because he competed against only half of the population. Currently, only 7% of fund managers are female. Why constrict any industry in this way?

My most memorable work moment…

For me I hope the best is yet to come! I always want things to get better. I hope I can help build a bigger Carmignac that is serving more clients to build their retirement savings, and using digitalization to do so more efficiently while keeping our family and entrepreneurship values.

The worst part of my job…

As a member of a family business and the manager of the UK business I don’t really want to switch off. This could be a problem and not only for me!

The best part of my job…

It always thrills me to meet long standing clients for whom Carmignac has made a difference. I remember an Italian who told me that she bought a summer family house for her kids and grandkids thanks to the money she made investing with us in the long run.

After work…

I rush home by tube, literally running to meet my husband and kids. I have two three year olds and a one year old and we have intense conversations even though they are not board members yet! My husband works in finance as well so we tend to talk about work although he would prefer me to focus on my cooking skills. We are big fans of the UK and have friends here from all over the world.

My Plan B:

When I was at school I was horse show jumping fan. I was part of the French Junior Team. I have been missing horse ridding every day since I stopped. I started running marathons but I preferred it when the horse was doing all the work running. I still have dreams where I am flying high but definitely not the time today. Maybe for my own retirement

Nas Noorizadeh

Nas Noorizadeh

My alarm goes off…

At 6:00am. When possible, I try to start off my day with some exercise. It helps me clear my mind for the day ahead, and I can never rely on myself to train at the end of a work day as I’ll often have a networking or social commitment to get to. I am lucky as my sellside days taught me how to be a ‘morning person’… whether my colleagues would agree, I’m not so sure!

I’m responsible for…

Helping BlackRock clients in the diversification of their asset allocation through investing in alternatives, specifically into hedge funds. In my day-to-day role, I focus on the sourcing, diligence and the investment of our client assets into hedge funds.

I got the job…

I started my career at UBS Investment Bank, where I spent five years working in the London office. My first manager was a very inspirational woman, who moved on from UBS to run a hedge fund, and ultimately ended up being a client that I covered in my role as an equity salesperson at UBS.

Our relationship had progressed over time to one of mentorship, and she was in fact the person who introduced me to my current team at BlackRock, BlackRock Alternative Advisors. I often relay this story to the interns and graduates that work with us, in order to teach them the value of maintaining a strong network, from the very beginning of their career.

My typical day…

Where possible, my day will start and end with a networking commitment. My role focuses heavily on the self sourcing of potential hedge fund investments, many of which are emerging managers, yet to launch their own businesses.

Identifying hedge fund managers, early in their life cycle has been a core focus of our team for the last 21 years, and has enabled us to build a unique portfolio of risks for our client base, so it’s something I place a lot of importance on.

The main part of my day will include a combination of client and investment responsibilities. As an Assistant Portfolio Manager, I spend time working on the creation and the ongoing monitoring of underlying portfolios for our clients. This involves the majority of my time being spent on bottom up, analytical work on existing and potential investments and an understanding of top down drivers impacting financial markets. Being a part of BlackRock helps tremendously, as I can leverage the expertise that resides globally across 30 countries and every asset class.

Aside from the day job, I take an active role in mentoring and managing the junior talent in our team as they seek to build their careers. Having started my career as an intern at UBS in 2006 and experienced some challenging periods in our industry, I enjoy imparting any wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.

My most memorable work moment…

Representing BlackRock on a marketing trip to South Africa, much to the envy of my colleagues. I had to participate in some panel discussions to a wide audience, which was daunting at first as I was amongst a sea of men, but ended up being incredibly exhilarating!

The worst part of my job…

Not being able to switch off as much as I wish I could. With colleagues across Seattle, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo, there is always an email waiting in your inbox…

The best part of my job…

I never stop learning. I am lucky to have the opportunity to speak to people far smarter, and more experienced than me on a daily basis. This is a really important driver to get me out of bed in the morning.

After work…

Outside of the work commitments I try to see my boyfriend, friends and family as much as possible. I have a huge passion for cooking, and learned a great deal of this from my mother so I am often at my happiest in the kitchen experimenting with a new recipe!

My Plan B:

My dream has always been to be involved in the food industry in some way. For now it’s a pipe dream, but it’s certainly something I often think about, and where I think I could use my Iranian heritage in a creative manner.

Paulina Arent

Paulina Arent

My alarm goes off…

At 7:00am – enough time for a quick shower and review of the morning’s headlines and overnight emails before I make my way to work. My office is a short tube ride away near Baker Street, and I spend my commute listening to podcasts or an audiobook (as seats are rare!).

I’m responsible for…

I’m a senior associate at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s (“CPPIB”) External Portfolio Management (“EPM”) Group. We are responsible for managing a portfolio of externally managed hedge funds and have investments with nearly 60 top global asset managers across equities, credit, interest rates, currencies and commodities.

Analysts and associates rotate through strategies over time and I currently help manage the commodity and activist portfolios, and assist with equity co-investments as they come up.

I got the job…

I got my start in investment banking in Canada, advising Canadian corporates on strategic and capital raising decisions. I moved to CPPIB because I wanted to gain experience on the buy side with one of the world’s largest and fastest growing institutional investors. Working in EPM was particularly appealing because I get to work directly with some of the world’s brightest investors across a broad array of strategies... meaning I had a lot to learn!

My typical day…

Involves meeting with lots of different people. As a senior associate I have three primary responsibilities:

  1. monitor our existing hedge fund investments
  2. help source and analyze new investment opportunities and
  3.  assist in developing the group’s long term strategy.

All three require interaction with both external hedge fund managers and our internal investment teams so I get to work with a wide range of people. It is also critical for me to stay on top of financial markets, so I regularly review financial news and research. I also spend a lot of time preparing for meetings. Before an investment makes it into the portfolio we discuss its risk and merits as a team and it serves as an opportunity for anyone to ask questions or raise issues with an investment. It’s important for us all to have ownership over the portfolio and to be well informed.

My job also involves some travel, primarily to North America and across Europe, mainly to where our investments are located. I also travel back to Canada a few times a year to reconnect with the team in our head office.

My most memorable work moment…

When the first investment I worked on from start to finish got approved! It was a great feeling to get to allocate capital to a business you really believe in.

The worst part of my job…

I never like to see the portfolio lose money. The CPPIB invests on behalf of 19 million Canadians and helps provide financial security in retirement, so it can be especially painful to witness a downturn. However in those moments, it’s helpful to keep a long term perspective in mind.

As a result of adopting a long horizon view, we’re able to look at investments over a more extended time frame vs. those considered by most other investors. Our long horizon also means that, while we look at our performance day-to-day, the true picture of our performance emerges over a much longer period of time.

The best part of my job…

Definitely the people I get to work with! My job also allows me to work with a wide variety of external investors across a broad range of strategies, which is quite unique in asset management. I’ve learned that there is a true variety of ways to think about the world and investing in particular. It’s great to be able to explore a variety of perspectives on a daily basis.

After work…

Depends on when work ends! It is not your typical 9-to-5 job and the hours can vary with what I am working on or what is happening in the market.

I try to get to the gym a few times a week after work but it doesn’t always work out. Outside of that, I try to have dinner at home with my boyfriend as often as possible and catch up on some TV (HBO’s Game of Thrones is a current favourite!).

It’s also important to carve out time to catch up with friends, usually over a glass of wine or trying out a new restaurant. I usually try get to bed by 11:30pm.

My Plan B:

I was a ski instructor in high school – I would love to spend more time on the slopes. Failing that I think it is important to encourage more diversity within asset management. It is truly an industry that can further benefit from a broad range of experiences and backgrounds.

Networking

A forum to discuss issue specific to those in a mid career position, and networking opportunities.

Further information will be available shortly, click here to register your interest.

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Mentoring

Further information will be available shortly, click here to register your interest.


 

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Further resources

Work Life Balance

Work life balance

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

The Importance Mentors

The Importance Mentors

Advice for mid‐career interview

Download our guidance document on mid-careers interviews from Sarah Dudney of The Buy‐Side Club.

Advice for mid‐career interview

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