The Jungle Gym

I want to spend more time writing. I find that I do most of my personal writing when I travel. But to write, you also have to read. And reflect. And talk with others for perspective.

My professional schedule was not allowing for this. It became a downward spiral–no reading, no reflecting, no writing. This introverted side is part of who I am. The fact that it was disappearing was starting to grate on me.

This was especially bothersome as I knew exactly what I wanted to dive in and learn more about. In partnering with exceptional professional coaches over the last few years, I became enthralled with leadership and organizational strategy. From my work with several philanthropic organizations, I became obsessed with supporting girls education in developing countries.

My Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds taunted me daily. Suddenly, it felt like there was a whirlwind of awareness, thought leadership, and creative innovative on all of these fronts. I felt like a kid in class looking out the window, waiting for my one hour of recess so I could go play outside.

Imagine if I just had the time to not only read those articles, but to find the people and organizations their authors were connected to. Imagine if I could spend time talking to my peers about these ideas. Imagine if I could think about how all of these things fit together, and outreach to people I don’t even know yet.

Leaving the industry I love to play on my own personal jungle gym was not an easy decision. My loyalties have always been more to people than organizations. It is the people who are hard to leave, especially when you are part of a tightly aligned team of amazing individuals. Saying good-bye is hard.

I will also admit to having a twinge of guilt. I’ve been watching senior women drop out of the investment management industry for a number of years. I read an article recently that put some numbers to the issue. The percentage of women in senior roles in asset management is equal to or less than 10%– on the high side are mutual funds and institutional long-only equity managers (10%) while for private equity and hedge funds it is 6% and 3%, respectively. In comparison with other rigorous professions (law, medicine, even investment banking) this is absurdly low.*

I’ve seen from my own career experiences as the only or rare woman on a management team that I offer a different point of view than others in the room. We all know why diversity (gender and otherwise) is important and that it continually needs to be addressed. When I recently announced my departure from my former firm, several female colleagues (even some I did not know very well) thanked me for being a role model and “speaking her voice.”  Perhaps I had a bigger impact than I knew. Which is why I have the twinge of guilt–now I am part of the problem!

The good news is that my social media jungle gym is full of new ideas!

In particular, I am watching Sallie Krawcheck and her newly-formed organization Ellevate Asset Management which partners with Pax World Investments to offer the first and only mutual fund in the U.S. which focuses on investing in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women’s leadership.

I also read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In.”  I didn’t plan to read it– if anything, I was probably “leaning in” to my career too much! But listening to my recent experiences, people kept recommending the book to me. Despite our industry differences, Sheryl’s stories and learnings really resonated with me. And now I am finding out just how many people (women and men, by the way) have read and enjoyed the book.

Recess has just gotten started, but these are some of the things we’re buzzing about on the jungle gym.

 

* “The Missing Women of Asset Management,” June 20, 2014, published by Asset International Inc. http://ai-cio.com/mobile/news/story.aspx?id=2147488933

 

 

 

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