Introducing Louise Walker, Lead of Wealth Direct Services, talking about her career journey, grabbing opportunities with both hands and the impact supportive organisations has on women in finance.
Tell me a bit about you, your career & what gets you up in the morning.
I’m Louise. I’m a yarn loving, adventure taking, avid skier who works in financial services. I’m blessed to lead a team and business that provides direct servicing for a wealth management organisation. What motivates me is having the opportunity to influence a business’s direction and outcomes, whilst developing myself, and those around me.
Life is busy. How do you manage it?
Lots. Of. Coffee. 👏 Ok that, and… One of the biggest lessons I have learnt, particularly this year is the importance of making time for yourself. Creating little rituals that keep you grounded, so that when you are caught in the whirlwind of work and life you still remain committed to what is most important to you. They don’t have to be big, they could be as simple as committing to a walk every morning to clear your mind, or watering your plants whilst listening to your favourite song. I have a lot of little ones, but an example of a ritual for me is my personal training. I do this three times a week – and use it as a time to not only focus on my health goals, but it’s a time for me to reset and get the endorphins going. By having this, I also create boundaries – for myself and others. It’s my time. Time that I have to get grounded no matter how crazy things get.
Male dominated industry - how do you find working through this? Did you have any setbacks?
I would be ignorant to say I haven’t experienced inequality throughout my working life. I have been sexualised and underestimated as a result of my gender, and my age. I wouldn’t say this has been a setback – but an eye opening experience and opportunity to advocate and build awareness to this issue. Oh, and not accept one ounce of it!
Accepting the status quo is the biggest barrier to change. I am fortunate to have spent the majority of my career in an organisation that acknowledges and actively works to foster change associated with gender balance and equality. This is particularly reflected in the senior leadership of where I work. There is still plenty of work to be done – but I truly feel where I work there is the right focus and commitment to shift the dial.
How did you know this was the right path you? Who were your mentors?
Finance actually started as a short term step for me, and six years later that step has turned into a rewarding and fulfilling career thus far. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be someone who truly knows what their exact path is - I’m someone who sees opportunity and runs for it. What I have found though is working in this industry is the platform to work within a variety of roles, diversity of people and thought, and be a part of significant growth and change. I have also been able to work under outstanding leadership – something that has been imperative to my success. I don’t necessarily have a set mentor relationship – I learn, lean on and take on traits of those who I find inspiring. Key people who have most influenced the leader I am today (whether or not a direct mentor) would be; Stephanie Craig, Theresa Kilititi, Christie Collis, Brittany Dyson, Jacqueline Laing, Jacqui Heffernan, Rohan Anderson, David Murfet, Russell Jansen and my beautiful Mum - just to name a few!
What is your advice to women wanting to build a career in finance and banking?
If you’re thinking about it, do it! You have more to lose by not trying. I think sometimes we unintentionally label industries and create a false perception of what we need to be to work in them (I.e. Stiff, corporate, relentless) - when the reality is actually far from that. For me, working in finance has provided me with the opportunity to work passionately with customers and people, and a platform to be challenged, stretched and recognised along the way. If there’s a fear or uncertainty that’s preventing you from working in this industry – reach out!
What are your top 3 tips for women looking to build a career in finance.
Find leaders that inspire you and are hell bent on seeing you succeed – work for them.
Be clear on your strengths and work to them – you’ll naturally feel more motivated and fulfilled when you are working to these. Read Don Clifton’s Strength Finder 2.0 for more on that.
Don’t put yourself in a box - be true to you and don’t underestimate what you are capable of.
AND - I just have to say – you don’t necessarily have to be good with numbers to work in finance. I repeat, you do not have to be good with numbers to work in finance!