As we observe International Women’s Day at Henderson Rowe, we celebrate the women who contribute to our business. We ask Kimmy Beattie (Head of Compliance and MLRO), Maria Camacho (Portfolio Analyst), Ana Diaz (Director, Head of Operations), Maureen Kirwan (Investment Operations Manager) and Malean Vuong (Investment Administrator) about their life, work and parenting experiences.
What are some of the challenges facing women in the investment industry?
Kimmy Beattie: I think that women are still widely seen as more emotional and perceived to be less capable of coping with things and weak. Pushy men still try to dominate women and some women lose their confidence when challenged and become intimidated. Women in very male dominated environments are still excluded from cliques: men tend to invite other men to social events.
Maria Camacho: Under-representation within a typically male dominated industry is a challenge I have observed personally; women in finance become pressured to work harder for the same recognition and opportunities as their male counterparts. Additionally, while attitudes to women within the workplace have come a long way over recent history, there is still the expectation for women to not only match male colleagues at work but also still be the perfect housekeeper and mother.
Ana Diaz: Creating spaces to make their voice being heard. Although some companies, such as Henderson Rowe and Rayliant Global Advisers, value and encourage this culture, the industry is changing too slowly, and we need to push for a faster transformation. Environments where all individuals feel comfortable to support or challenge each other’s ideas lead to more successful overall outcomes.
Maureen Kirwan: I started out in the industry more than twenty years ago and a lot has improved since then. I think technology has played a part in this since it has changed the way we work. Unfortunately, I still encounter unconscious bias, so more progress needs to be made in this area. Too often women are assumed to be in support rather than decision making roles and I find certain behavioural conventions are expected based on gender.
How have you balanced being a mother and a professional?
Kimmy Beattie: I got divorced because there was too much weight on me to pick up the mental and physical load of home life as well as have a career. As a divorcee I only have childcare responsibilities 50% of the time but I have still experienced that dilemma of having to drop everything at work to go and deal with the children. Mostly I’ve just had to juggle good time management with conflicting priorities.
Maria Camacho: As a new mum I am still adjusting to this paradigm shift in my life, where priorities vary daily depending on the needs of others. I am incredibly lucky that Henderson Rowe encourages work-life balance, and this flexibility has been crucial for me to keep active and carry on as a professional.
Maureen Kirwan: I took a period of absence from working life in order not to have to balance family and professional life. Now I have returned to work, I am very grateful to have a fantastic husband who picks up some of the load.
Malean Vuong: I am a mother to two very young toddlers. Before Covid, I would never take work home and be able to fully switch myself off outside of work hours. Now we are all working from home, I struggle to find the balance since being a full-time mother while working from home has been very challenging. There are good days and bad days for both jobs.
During the pandemic mothers like me have been busy juggling childcare, home-schooling and work, with the added stress of worrying about the health of elderly relatives and vulnerable friends. I feel guilty when my daughter asks me “when will you be done?” or “when can you play with me?”.
On a positive note, I am spending more time with my children. Over time I have come to learn that I have to take regular breaks to attend to my children and taking just ten minutes to play with them keeps them happy.
What have been some of the high and low points of your career?
Kimmy Beattie: High – Being Head of Compliance at Henderson Rowe is a high point in my career to date. As an ethnic woman in a leadership role, Henderson Rowe fully supports what I do and gives me a lot of guidance to do my job and build relationships internally. Low – As far as low points are concerned, I have found it difficult historically as a mother of two to climb through the glass ceiling. In a previous role I was told point blank that they didn’t want a woman in a senior management position.
Ana Diaz:High – the constant support, appreciation and encouragement that I have received from everyone in the company, particularly from my team. Even when we have difficult challenges knowing that we are doing the right thing and that we are facing them together makes all the difference. Low – seeing some positive changes being rewound.
Maureen Kirwan: High – I returned to work, at Henderson Rowe, after five years out of the workplace. I didn’t expect to return so easily and have had a lot of encouragement and opportunities within the firm as well so definitely a high. Low – staying in a poor work culture for two years because I feared how it would appear to future employers if I had too short a duration.
Malean Vuong: High – I have been privileged to work with a number of talented people who have nurtured me over the years. Finding an employer who nurtured my skill set. Low – working in an environment with a poor work culture where aggressive, public confrontations were common-place. This made me feel very undervalued and underappreciated.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Kimmy Beattie: Be prepared for dealing with difficult people. Stand your ground and don’t be intimidated or influenced by others too readily. Doing your own research builds confidence in handling confrontational situations. Be sure to manage time properly and earmark downtime to de-stress as well.
Maria Camacho: Do not waste your time trying to please everyone. Be pragmatic and push yourself to take risks such as applying for senior roles even if you do not think you have a chance.
Ana Diaz: Do not stress; focus on doing your best to make things happen and let it flow
Maureen Kirwan: Don’t put up with a poor workplace culture. Life’s short and there are plenty more opportunities and people who will appreciate you.
What has you excited about the future?
Kimmy Beattie: There are too few female leadership examples and mentors in the investment industry, so I look forward to being able to offer support and guidance to up and coming female professionals. I hope to contribute to removing industry stereotypes.
Maria Camacho: I have recently taken on a new role and currently many things are exciting for me, however, in the future I want to push the boundaries in terms of responsibilities and hopefully provide an example to other women with my background.
Ana Diaz: Being able to collaborate with my team and stakeholder face to face after more than a year. Also, seeing our new interface up and running: we have been working really hard to implement improved technologies for the business and our clients.
Maureen Kirwan: Some women with childcare responsibilities have to fit working around school hours and holidays. The working-from-home that we have all been doing during the Covid-19 pandemic presents a great opportunity for them to explore more working options. I hope that it becomes a new norm to help many women to rejoin the workforce.
There is still a lot of focus on women in leadership and c-suite quotas which affect a minority of people. Issues that affect a majority such as childcare and maintaining a career trajectory with work-life balance are still not being given sufficient attention. I would like to see firms shift to a “right person, right job” model where people can choose roles which are right for their talents and interests rather than based on quotas or stereotyping.
Malean Vuong: We have a lot of up-coming big projects that will hopefully change and improve our delivery of service and being able to meet client expectations.
What is your favourite quote?
Kimmy Beattie: “She believed she could, so she did” —R.S. Grey
Maria Camacho:“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” —Eleanor Roosevelt.
Ana Diaz: “I saw that to do exceptionally well you have to push your limits and that, if you push your limits, you will crash, and it will hurt a lot. You will think you have failed—but that won’t be true unless you give up.” —Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
Maureen Kirwan: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” —Steve Jobs
Malean Vuong:“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values. and follow my own moral compass, then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own,” —Michelle Obama
Henderson Rowe is a registered trading name of Henderson Rowe Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under Firm Reference Number 401809.
The information contained in this article is the opinion of Henderson Rowe and does not represent investment advice. The value of investment may go up and down and investors may not get back what they invested. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.