What do you do at Coronation and what led you to this role?
I am a Client Service Manager in Coronation’s Institutional Business team, with a focus on the more technical aspects of our communications. I work closely on various environmental, social and governance initiatives.
Equipped with my BScHons in Mathematical Statistics, my career started at Alexander Forbes in their actuarial department in Port Elizabeth. After years of exponential growth and great leadership, I felt I would always be limited if I didn’t qualify as an actuary and decided to steer my way across to asset management.
From structured finance, to interest-rate risk management in a corporate treasury, I eventually made the move to Futuregrowth Asset Management after completing the Level 1 CFA certification. There I established a firm foundation (which is critical) in being able to value and attribute the performance of every instrument in non-vanilla fixed interest portfolios. I then moved to a multi-manager, where I gained exposure across asset classes and also grew familiar with all the asset management firms and learned the importance of an investment philosophy and what resonated with me.
In addition to CFA certification, I earned the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designation, as I’ve always tried to distinguish myself.
When I recognised it was time to move on, I knew exactly where first prize was – Coronation. I was the annoying client who mailed the portfolio managers directly with questions! Over the years, they had come to know me, so when a position became available, I wrote to express my interest, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Grit and inspiration
What drove you to succeed?
I’ve always been hardworking and believe that everything in life must be earned and re-earned. I set very high standards for myself and am my own harshest critic. I plan what is in my control, including allowance for the unexpected. My day starts with a refresh of my to-do list.
Where does your resilience come from?
I’m not sure I’d describe myself as resilient. Strong willed? Fiercely independent? Yes. I occasionally feel sorry for myself, but then ask: “What are you going to do about it, Tracy?”
Dealing with the challenges life throws at us makes us stronger. Defining moments for me were having a child at the age of 21 and writing my honours exams a week later. I then relocated to a new city, away from my family and, ultimately, made my way as a single, working mom. All of these experiences taught me to dig deep to find the strength to carve out a career while creating a safe and stable home environment for my child.
Shoulders of giants
Who was a major influence for you growing up?
I had a very healthy, normal and wholesome Baptist upbringing. I am my father’s child; he even gave me ballet advice! I have a lot of his traits, including being opinionated and outspoken. Back then, my parents were focused on providing for us and were not very involved in steering our paths. Looking back, I wish I had been more productive and encouraged to explore beyond what was required.
Who have been your career mentors?
David Hufton at Alexander Forbes, my first manager, was very supportive and was a big influence in my career development. I sought his opinion even after leaving Forbes. In the multi-manager space, it was a gift having access to all the managers and I benefitted tremendously from many of them, thank you.
At Coronation, employee ownership is a big part of our culture. What does this mean to you and how does it shape your behaviour/approach?
To be honest, it doesn’t affect my professional attitude as I have a strong work ethic, and always accept full accountability for my outputs.
We are a team-based meritocracy, what does this mean to you?
How we operate as one team was the most notable experience when joining Coronation and the sharing of information and the exchanges that continue regardless of the hour. It is most valuable in the era of information overload to be steered by smart minds.
We place high value on integrity in all that we do. What does integrity mean to you, personally and for the business?
I am very principled, so integrity is a deal breaker. My workplace must be aligned with my standards.
What do you think needs to change in the mindset of working women?
To decide on the balance that you want and need, and then to set the appropriate boundaries.
What advice would you give women entering the workplace now?
You are equal. Don’t think of yourself any differently.