Angela has launched various forums with the goal of promoting female talent, including a Women’s Financial Summit and the Credit Suisse and BlackRock women’s summit. Angela acts as a formal mentor, but also as a trusted confidante, on an informal basis, which reflects her inclusive nature and passion to help women make an impact.
Angela has been shortlisted for the 2020 WIBF Award for Achievement.
Can you tell us about your career path?
I certainly did not intend to go into banking, I thought a career in public relations beckoned but was inspired by a friend in banking who thought I would enjoy the adrenaline fuelled environment of a dealing desk. I began my career in sales within the Fixed Income markets and progressed from there to managerial roles. Having grown up in Africa, which at times required a different set of coping skills particularly having lived through a war, I thrived in the high-octane environment of the financial markets. I worked mostly for European Banks before taking a break in 2010 where I co-founded an electronic trading platform. This was probably one of the highlights of my career in that I went from enjoying the benefits of working for a branded institution to having to sell an idea and myself. I learnt more in that time than any other point in my career and felt the entrepreneurial experience I gained helped make me a better solution-oriented client-facing person when I returned to an Investment Bank.
I would highly recommend taking a break in one’s career to try something completely different to test your creative skills. I believe the experience I gained made me a better client-facing person in that I am more resilient, more appreciative of what goes into running a business from a cost-income ratio perspective, and more grateful for what a career in banking is all about – the stimulation and rewards are second to none.
You launched the Credit Suisse and Black Rock Press for Progress Women’s summit, can you tell us more about that?
The idea materialised after talking with BlackRock about the challenges we face in our industry in recruiting and retaining women and that our experiences from both the sell-side and buy-side were not too dissimilar. Given we share the same goals of the power of a truly diverse and inclusive organisation we agreed there would be a huge benefit in bringing together our respective colleagues to press for progress, take action and inspire the next generation of leaders on the merits of a career in banking and asset management. Having the different perspectives yielded some interesting results around personal development such as asking for that promotion and compensation which was a little different for each firm and tackling difficult conversations in an effort to break down barriers and get people engaged and talking.
We are in the fourth year of the summit and believe we have achieved one of our main goals to create a network which in turn has led to ideas being shared on attracting human capital and making introductions to each other on some incredible female talent while also providing ad-hoc mentoring. The main aim of the summit is to help create a nurturing and safe space for our respective female talent to thrive.
You are a member of the Vice President Coaching Program, what advice would you give to women considering coaching?
To be confident in their abilities and not to undersell themselves, something I notice far more in women than in men and importantly not to be too self-contained. While being self-contained has its merits at times, it can be limiting particularly when it comes to promotion and compensation. I try to instil the message that likely most women have experienced some of the challenges and there are strategies for coping but being clear in the ask irrespective of the situation yields a new level of respect which in itself becomes self-perpetuating and expressed in the body language. I also encourage women to be authentic and most of all embrace their femininity and not feel they have to conform to the stereotype banker which usually ends in tears. I encourage them to be a mentor themselves to junior colleagues, friends and family which helps them to feel less alienated and able to make positive changes themselves.
In addition to that I suggest the creation of a personal board of directors which is a group of trusted confidantes, male or female, that creates a safe space to share challenging situations as they unfold to provide the different and usually all important perspective. Finally, being a good listener is important, the power of being heard can never be underestimated.
Do you think the current crisis will have an impact on the progression of Diversity and Inclusion?
I absolutely do, particularly as ESG gains a greater focus amongst investors, regulators and governments with the ‘S’ in ESG coming to the fore. To date, a lot of the focus has been on climate change have highlighted the importance that the ‘S’ part deserves the same level of attention. We are already seeing targets being set in the industry for the recruitment of black employees which ultimately is a good thing even if you don’t believe in targets, it focuses the mind and hopefully breaks down unconscious bias particularly around hiring programs and representation in management. There is a huge amount of inclusive capital being put to work and companies that don’t address the issue will not only not benefit from D&I but ultimately lose out which will reflect in their success and share price.
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self, knowing what you know now?
That risk begets risk and the more risks you take the more confident you become even if you fail. To be in it to win it – network like crazy and help your friends and colleagues. In this business ultimately all that we have are reputations and relationships and therefore helping each other is key to one’s long term success. Be authentic and importantly maintain your femininity but be bold and ask for that pay rise or promotion no matter how scary it may feel at the time. Ask for help and own up to mistakes instantly, it builds people’s confidence in your decision making mechanism. Finally, try not to overthink everything and when you have that 3am terror moment when it comes to work issues breathe deeply and know that when you are back in the office the next day it is not nearly as bad you imagined it in the middle of the night. Most of all have fun with it.
What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
As an older mother of a three-year old I now truly appreciate the demands of a working mother and career with limited downtime but I try to carve out time for activities in nature which are the perfect antidote to our stressful city lives. Having grown up in Africa one of my most favourite pastimes is walking safaris. I ski a lot and join my classic-car enthusiast husband on rallies although trying to figure out how to get a baby seat into a 1955 Jaguar comes with its own challenges! I am also a member of a book-club which forces me to read books I wouldn’t ordinarily choose and opens my otherwise busy world to a different perspective on life. My next goal is to take up free-swimming in the UK, something I have started doing in Switzerland but would like to make it a bigger part of my life here at home.