Muse Advisory's CEO and co-founder was named joint Role Model of the Year at the inaugural Women in Pensions Awards. She speaks to Stephanie Baxter about her success
What does being co-winner of the Role Model of the Year award mean to you?
I am not used to winning awards. So being nominated and then co-winning such an award was embarrassing but also a heart-warming experience. It was also very humbling, given the number of talented and dedicated women who work in the pensions industry.
It did make me consider what being a role model means.
- Being able to perfectly balance work, family and leisure? If so, the award was awarded to the wrong person.
- Inspiring, motivating and supporting others succeed in their careers and their goals? If, so there are so many others the award could have gone to!
"Role modelling is the most basic responsibility of parents," according to Stephen Covey. So, it makes you think: if similar principles to good parenting applied in the work environment, would behaviours towards each other be more understanding, tolerant, nurturing, supporting?
Whatever being a role model means, I am grateful to have been co-awarded the honour and say a huge thank you to my team for nominating me and to the judges for granting the award.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
It is so hard to just name one lesson. So here are a few and all apply to both men and women:
Commitment to what you are doing, paying attention to detail, being positive and enjoying what you do are all essential prerequisites to a successful career.
Good listening is as important as good and open communication.
Try to understand where others are coming from and show respect for others and their opinion is also key.
There is one more: however junior or senior you are, you need a champion and a mentor; someone who will provide genuine support, nurture your development and support you in the work environment.
And more importantly, be true to your values.
The Women in Pensions Awards Winners Series
What has been your greatest achievement that demonstrates your ability to act as a role model for other women?
Seeing Muse Advisory develop from a seed to a fully-fledged company with a fabulous reputation, with a most amazing client list and team has been hugely rewarding. Developing the team and working in Muse never felt like a job or a chore but a most enjoyable hobby.
At the core of Muse Advisory we have very strong values, such as integrity, independence and respect:
- We respect the personal lives and goals of others, so they can flourish in all parts of their life including work. We consider each other's well-being just as much as we ensure we deliver high quality advice to our clients.
- We value honesty and transparency over and above all temporary and commercial interests.
- We challenge each other to drive quality and to recognise any errors early. We work with an understanding that we can always improve.
- If a piece of work will not deliver value for money, we should not be doing it. Nor should we do any work that would jeopardise our independence.
- We believe we are mature enough to know that placing our responsibilities to our clients, to each other, and to society, before profit, is a better way of doing things.
Perhaps another humbling achievement is seeing so many people (men and women) who have excelled in the pensions industry and who I had either mentored or supported over the years.
What has been your experience working as a woman in the pensions industry?
There are several challenges to overcome:
- The first, especially in the early years of your career, is to build confidence.
- The second is to ask for opportunities, especially when you spot one that you are interested in; don't expect to be offered a great opportunity.
- The third is to make time for family - probably the most challenging of all.
What is your top tip for women looking to progress or start a career in the pensions industry?
The most important is to ‘be you and enjoy being you'! Everyone is different, and everyone is special.
There is no substitute for ‘hard work'. Work as hard as you can and aim to do the best job you can whilst showing respect to all you work with.
And my final tip is to ‘be positive'. No one likes to work with negative, grumpy, difficult to manage individuals.
Not only the professional world, but also the pensions sector, are at long last embracing diversity. So my tip to both men and women is to embrace all the opportunities this drive for diversity will provide!
This week's top stories included the Department for Work and Pensions issuing two separate consultations on the pensions dashboard and defined benefit consolidation.
A regime similar to that for defined contribution (DC) master trusts will be set up for regulating defined benefit (DB) consolidators under plans announced today.
Defined benefit (DB) superfunds that wish to enter the market must talk to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) about their plans before opening for business.