What do you do at Coronation and what experience led you to this role?
I am manager of the support teams in the institutional business team – 10 dedicated professionals who provide exceptional service to our institutional clients. I have over 20 years’ experience in financial services, including private banking and asset management in South Africa and 10 years at a hedge fund in London.
After leaving school, I was extremely focused on building a career in the field of psychology. However, after completing a BA, majoring in psychology and education, I soon had a crisis of faith about my chosen profession. Feeling somewhat disillusioned, I was determined to course correct, take control of my future and launch into the ‘real world’.
Luckily, from the age of 16, I had always worked and continued to do so during university. I quickly came to appreciate the financial independence and the benefits of a lucrative income! I think it was these capitalist tendencies that drove me to where the money was: financial services. Along the way, I completed diplomas in finance and project management, and I credit my resilience and determination to avoid failure at all costs to what got me to where I am today.
Grit and inspiration
What drove you to succeed and how did you prove yourself?
I think that your idea of what success looks like changes as you move through your life and your career. From a very young age, I was driven to be financially and emotionally independent, and I am motivated by the opportunities around me to learn and grow.
I’ve always worked hard and have proved that I am accountable, dependable and willing to get stuck in. I think my strong work ethic opened doors for me and I am never afraid to accept new challenges – no matter how daunting they might seem at the time. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people during the course of my career and I have made the most of it. I am not driven to ‘be right’ but rather to ‘get it right’ and exceed expectations, which is always a moving target. Of course, when you set your own standards, success is even harder to evaluate.
Where does your resilience come from?
Personal integrity, self-respect and accountability to my family and colleagues. I was raised by exceptionally hardworking and resilient parents who didn’t shield me from the reality that “life isn’t always smooth, but you can get through it – and no matter what, we’ll support and love you”. I don’t think it was a conscious decision; for me it was just a given that I get up, dress up and show up.
Shoulders of giants
Who was a major influence for you growing up?
Both my parents have been extremely influential in moulding me into the adult I am. I’ve also been exceptionally fortunate to have worked with some incredible leaders, both men and women, who not only shared their knowledge, but also inspired and challenged me to look at business and life differently. I was never made to feel inferior or at a disadvantage due to my age or gender. I am very proud to have been part of organisations where my input was valued, and my contribution measured on merit alone.
At Coronation, employee ownership is a big part of our culture – what does this mean to you and how does it shape your behaviour?
It means I am accountable to those around me and to myself. At Coronation, an ownership mentality is expected and is not earned through seniority, titles or incentive schemes. It also means that you have a voice in the organisation, and you are expected to make a difference.
We are a team-based meritocracy – what does this mean to you? And how does it impact your work experience?
That we can trust and rely on one another and that everyone’s contributions are not only rewarded, but also appreciated and noticed. What you put in, you’ll get out. And it’s highly likely that everyone around you is working harder than you are, which drives you to want to do more and work harder, because you’re in this together.
We place high value on integrity in all that we do. What does integrity mean to you, personally and for the business?
To me, personal integrity is a given and there is no separation between this and how I show up at Coronation. It’s non-negotiable. It’s everything that I say and do. It means finishing what I start and doing what I say I’ll do. It also means having difficult conversations when they’re needed and standing up for others when I’m in a position to do so.
What do you think needs to change in the mindset of working women?
That there are different standards of excellence for women and men in business. You can set the standard and until proven otherwise, the opportunities available to you are limitless. Don’t assume the answer is ‘No’ or that you don’t have a seat at the table – take it.
What advice would you give women entering the workplace now?
Work hard, decide who you want to be and be that woman. Nothing comes easy. You don’t have to have all the answers right now but be present now. Learn as much as you can about the company, profession and industry you’re in. Be the best that you can be. Bravely take chances and be hungry to snatch up the opportunities that come your way. You have so much time ahead of you and so many people who want to help you achieve your goals. You will make mistakes and people may not always be kind, but you will get another chance to do better. When encountering difficult people, you never know what is going on in their life or day. Be kind.
When you get the job, it’s because the company believes in you, so focus on what you need to do and deliver.