Women in Leadership within Financial Services
Ahead of International Women's Day tomorrow, we would like to share with you a guest blog featuring two females in Leadership roles, within Financial Services.
They will be discussing their success, career defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Anamika Talwar and Avril Klooster had to say:
Guest Speaker 1 - Anamika Talwar, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Singapore
Anamika Talwar is a business leader with over 20 years of global experience encompassing building new businesses, running country operations as well as regional (multi-country) leadership in the Americas and Asia Pacific.
Guest Speaker 2 - Avril Klooster, SVP Investor Relations Group at Citco Fund Services
Avril Klooster is a experienced professional in account management, team leadership and process development in Investor Relations within the Hedge Fund Administration Industry.
1. What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
AT: As a child I was encouraged to dream big and hitch my wagon to the stars. Setting high aspirations and believing in myself even when the odds we stacked against me helped me in realizing my dreams.
The strong ambition fueled a hunger that kept me motivated to go the extra mile and plough through any obstacles that came my way. Another factor was following my passion. If you love what you do then success is a natural outcome. I have loved each job I’ve been in and have made course corrections when necessary to make sure I’m always enjoying what I’m doing.
Last but not least, my mentors and teams have been significant contributors in everything that I’ve achieved. I have benefitted from excellent formal and informal mentors to guide me and advocate for me throughout my career. I’ve also been blessed with amazing teams that have delivered outstanding work. As a leader if you take care of your teams, empower them and foster their development, they will deliver great results.
AK: Having a growth mindset* and being open to change and opportunity. Seeing mistakes as a path to learning and regularly reflecting on performance to review what is required of me in my current position, asking myself: what new skills do I need to develop, what are my strengths and what are the areas that I need to tone down? A critical learning point was realizing that the skills that got me to a certain position in my career, were not necessarily the skills that I needed to be successful at that level or those that would put me in contention for promotion, so adaptability is a big factor. I’m also a big believer in personal accountability: commitment to a position and working to improve the team, department and organization in which you work.
However, success is not achieved in isolation and I’ve had the privilege of working closely with remarkable people throughout my career in Citco Group of companies (“Citco”). People who have been generous with their time and support, often challenging me and opening my mind to new experiences and learning.
*As we celebrate IWD, take the opportunity to check out Dr. Carol Dweck’s work regarding fixed and growth mindsets: it is essential reading.
2. What initiatives (if any) have you experienced within an organization that you believe have helped you?
AT: Maintaining work-life balance right after childbirth can be challenging and many women opt out of the workforce during this time. The maternity benefits and flexible work arrangements offered by my employer really helped me balance my personal and professional commitments when I was a new mother. After my daughter was born, I was able to take 6 months off and then work from home part time for a month, followed by one year of working full time from home. This flexibility really helped me have a smooth transition.
Daimler Financial Services has been consistently ranked amongst the world’s Top 10 companies to work for, as awarded by the Great Place to Work Institute. It’s been a wonderful experience to be part of an organization that is dedicated to having a fun and nurturing work culture. I also truly value the commitment of the organization to leadership development through training and job rotations. I have had the good fortune of building self-awareness and honing my leadership skills through excellent training programs. I have also broadened my perspectives and have had tremendous learning opportunities by taking on different roles across functional and geographical boundaries.
AK: Citco supports global mobility of its employees. Back in 2012 I had the opportunity to move from Ireland to Singapore with Citco and it opened up a whole new world for me. I got to experience managing multi-cultural teams, exposure to the Asian market and frequent travel to our Manila and Hong Kong offices. Working in another country made me step outside of my comfort zone and become more independent, more exposed to different leadership skills and more knowledgeable of international markets. Seven years later I’m very happy to call Singapore, this little red dot, my home from home.
3. What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Leadership?
AT: I truly believe that you can achieve your professional goals faster if you are proactive about your development. Have discussions with your supervisor and senior leaders regarding your aspirations and be as specific as you can so they can support you the best they can. If you think you deserve a raise or a promotion don’t be shy to discuss it with your supervisor and get their feedback. Male members of my past teams have been more proactive in raising these discussions than their female counterparts.
Build a support network of mentors and don’t be shy to reach out for guidance and help. Most leaders are happy to help aspiring talent in their career journey. Also, raise your hands and go for opportunities even though you may not have all the prerequisites for the job, you will be amazed how much you can pick up very quickly while you are on the job. Each role I’ve had has been really different from the previous one and most of my learning has happened though that experience of taking on new challenges in areas that were new to me.
Finally, be visible in your organization. It helps if your superiors are aware of your capabilities and your contributions. Many of us grew up with values that teach us to be humble, but that should not keep you from shining your light. Take opportunities to present to leaders or get their input on your work. Get involved in activities and communities that give you broader exposure within the organization. Exposure to senior leadership will only help you further your goals.
AK: Surround yourself with a good support network in your personal life, within your organization and across your industry. These networks are key for sharing experiences, troubleshooting issues, idea generation, celebrating successes and being there to help support during difficult times. Always be open to learning. Seek out gender diverse circles; it is important to see the world from all perspectives. Make sure these groups are positive and inspiring, steer away from those that drain you.
3. Can you highlight any career defining moments?
AK: Having the courage to change industry and career in my late twenties. I still remember asking my sister, who also works in Investor Services, what it was that she actually did for a living and thinking that it sounded pretty interesting. And I wasn’t wrong! Having that confidence in myself and my ability to apply myself to another industry has led me to a successful and fulfilling career in Alternative Assets Fund Administration. The multifaceted nature of Investor Services, spanning operational day-to-day tasks, client & investor relationship management, global reach, process improvement, team development and coaching, is one that keeps me challenged and engaged to this day.