I was lucky enough to be selected for one of the first Erasmus four-year degree programmes, which involved two years studying with a six-month work placement in Madrid, Spain, and then the same format in England. That really set the direction for my journey. Aged 18 years old, working with many different cultures and European nationalities helped set the precedent for the ‘no-fear’ attitude I have today.
When I got my first graduate job at Reuters, they enabled me to do a post-graduate diploma in marketing, which put me on the pathway I’m on now. Then, for my next role, at Goldman Sachs I had to pass 10 interviews and once I got the job I was pushed hard to perform every day, as it’s an incredibly hard-working environment. Working in one of the best financial organisations in the world brings lots of opportunities, but you have to stay focused and very disciplined.
I was then headhunted to work for some smaller companies and I got promoted quite quickly in various roles working across M&A, marketing and sales, as well as being on an executive board.
Persistence is my guiding light through challenges, and in 2008, I was made redundant in a merger of equals, and that’s when I set up K&K Global Consulting. When I became pregnant it was obviously more difficult to find a permanent senior role. When I started to set up meetings with potential backers for the Buy-side Trading Community (BTC), many people told me to come back in six months after I’d had my baby, to see if I still wanted to do it.
I did go back, and that positively surprised people. It was difficult trying to be taken seriously in the corporate world with a newborn baby, but I managed to juggle it. I gave myself a one-year window to make it work, and I gave it my all, as I always do!
Balancing a career and having a family is an extremely difficult challenge. There is never an ‘off button’ when you have children and they grow up very quickly. I am very grateful to have both a career and a family and try to be present in my daughter’s life as much as I can. The other challenge, that’s increasingly important to address nowadays, is work-life balance and being able to switch off and disconnect from work for your own mental wellbeing. The markets are always ‘on’, whether you have a personal life or not.
I believe a positive and progressive attitude is the key to success, and I’m mindful that all my clients’ time is very valuable and that every second counts. I strive to work smart and believe that if you’re not doing something you enjoy, don’t waste time – you shouldn’t be afraid to change it. If you fail, you’ve got to be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and learn from it. My mindset is to never dwell on failures. I’m always looking to find a way to learn from it, improve and keep moving forwards.
I always come back to the analogy that a car’s front windscreen is always bigger than the back window – you should be focusing on and looking at what’s in front of you instead of what’s behind you as the opportunities are always in front of you.
Women tend to push themselves very hard, as they sometimes, rightly or wrongly, feel they have more to prove, but I think you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself – you should trust yourself and use your own intuition. Don’t be afraid to throw your hat into the ring and speak up. What have you got to lose? Just go for it!
Whether you are a male or female, being a strong leader and having a strong team is what matters. I don’t feel disadvantaged because I’m a woman, and I certainly don’t really think about being a woman in a business context. I think regardless of gender you’ve just got to give it your best shot and have the right positive attitude.
The Buy-side Trading Community (BTC) has the ethos to work for our buy-side trading clients and try to help to make a difference by using our voice and meeting platform to leverage each other. Since I was listed as one of Brummell magazine’s Inspirational Women in 2019, we championed ‘#buysidewomen’, to increase awareness that only 10 per cent of buy-side traders on our database were women and most of them were in Asia. We are very grateful that our BTC research was championed by the Investment Association (IA) and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and there have now been consultations undertaken by the London Stock Exchange group and other European exchanges to shorten exchange hours, which is a huge initiative!
This may potentially not only lead to benefits of the end investors, but certainly give the firms in the capital markets the opportunity to develop a higher level of diversity within their workforce. In 2020, we also launched #buysidebootcamp raising money for Mind and Cancer Research UK to help our buyside peers and colleagues in need.