Asset Management Is For Women Too (featuring Claire Spencer)By Judi Hess
One thing I have been noticing more and more is the number of women entering the field of asset and asset investment management. In fact, many of Copperleaf’s clients are women who are taking a leading role in their organizations in planning and managing their asset investments more strategically, to minimize risk and create the highest value for their organizations.
Certainly the prevalence of women is not evident by attending an asset management conference…yet. But it occurred to me that this is a great role for women in a field where you might not expect to find many women! And I believe this is the beginning of an exciting trend and would like to highlight some of these women—and the interesting work they’re doing—to establish some role models and shine a light on this as a possible career path for young women.
In this article, we are featuring:
How did you get involved in the field of asset management?
Working in asset management was never something that I saw myself doing, even though my dad is an engineer. I studied Business Studies at university and I was starting to panic that I really needed a job when I completed my education. Luckily enough, I was successful in getting a role at an Asset Management Consultancy company that was locally based. I absolutely loved the role and I’ve never looked back!
What attracted you to this field?
I’ve always loved that whatever the asset, whether it be gas mains, electricity cables, water treatment plants, bridges and roads, the challenge of what is the best way to manage those assets is always approached in the same way, even though at an engineering level the assets may behave very differently. Asset management has provided me with the opportunity to apply the same skills whilst learning about new sectors and how different assets behave. I can honestly say that I’m always learning, and every day is a different challenge, I love the variety of the role.
What excites you most about this field?
The world of asset management is developing so much as a discipline, I’ve seen so much change in the 15 years that I’ve worked in the area. Not too long ago, long-term planning was done in spreadsheets and purely looked at asset age as a driver with little consideration at that stage on the customer impact. Now it’s becoming a multi-skilled discipline that combines engineering, economics, mathematics and technology with an increasing focus on getting the best value for customers. Different skills are required from asset managers compared to just a few years ago and the field now considers asset management from a holistic view and not just in terms of condition of the asset.
What are the most rewarding aspects of the work you do?
Putting together the regulatory strategic business plan is many years of effort, which has lots of challenges and involves working across multiple teams. When the plan is submitted and you get a great outcome for the business it makes all the effort worthwhile.
Where are you (and your team) making the biggest impact?
Me and my team have recently implemented C55™ and we are using the software to support our Asset Health and Risk reporting. This activity was previously undertaken using multiple spreadsheets that were extremely large and cumbersome to use. By implementing C55 we have a more robust process that is much quicker and simpler to use. Our next challenge is to use the system to support our regulatory business plan submission.
What do you think are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge for asset management, is ensuring that as a discipline we have the right skills. Asset management companies require STEM skills if they are to succeed and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recruit in these areas with many young people opting to study other subjects.
Asset management also requires individuals to possess both technical STEM skills and soft skills such as problem solving and strategic thinking, which are becoming increasingly difficult to recruit for. Therefore it’s essential that asset managers ensure that there are no barriers to entering the discipline and that diversity and inclusion is encouraged so that there is a wider recruitment pool, as well as promoting STEM careers in schools. In addition to being a STEM ambassador, I’ve been trying to grow my network of women working in asset management and I’d be keen to hear from other women in the field on how we can overcome this challenge.
Would you recommend asset management to other women as a career?
Definitely. Traditionally when people think of asset management they think of operational roles, but there is so much more to it. Asset management has a lot more to offer women as a career, with roles available in finance, strategy, investment planning, technology, customer service and much more! It is also rare for someone to be ‘pigeon holed’ in asset management and there are many opportunities for someone to work across different departments within a business.
To learn more about other women making an impact in this emerging field, feel free to check out the rest of the articles in this series here.