Her story of finding strength in authenticity

Kristi Ashcroft, Head of Product at Mackenzie Investments, believes we all have stories and that  haring them can help us to understand other people’s motivations, fears, strengths and weaknesses — and help to humanize workplaces. Being true to your own story is authenticity, and Kristi has found that’s a quality that enables different elements of your life to coexist in harmony. Here’s her story.

Know a career isn’t just one path

I spent the first decade of my career on the fixed-income trading floors of a Wall Street firm in New York and London. You win on Wall Street by out-thinking or out-analyzing somebody. Speed to an insight or interpretation determines success. It was one of the most intellectually challenging, fast-paced and fascinating industries to work in, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. But it was also all-consuming, and I didn’t think it was compatible with having children. So I stepped away from the trading floor and went all-in on parenting.

Bring all your experiences to work

I used the next decade to flex all kinds of muscles I hadn’t in my professional life to that point — working with not-for-profits, doing communications and design, running complex fundraising events and managing volunteers. When my youngest started kindergarten, I interviewed for jobs again, but, for many employers, my nontraditional career path didn’t compute. I’d feel an instinctive need to explain away my time raising children, but that’s the first chink in the armour of authenticity. I had to draw on my discipline, confidence and courage to say, “The value I bring stems from the sum total of all my choices.” What followed from that was a conscious decision to bring the richness of all my experiences to my work and the way I lead my team. At the same time, I bring the best of what I learn at work about leadership, coaching and empathy to the way I parent and engage with my family. I’ve discovered that everybody wins with this approach.

Find your sense of purpose

I know that for every dollar we manage at Mackenzie, somebody made a choice to defer a dream. They could have spent the money, but they decided to invest with us — and put their trust in us — to help them achieve a goal, whether it be realizing their ideal retirement lifestyle or sending a child or grandchild to university. I never forget why we do what we do. It’s not about there being $1 billion in a fund. It’s that there are $1 billion worth of people’s hopes sitting in that fund. That’s motivation to do the right thing for clients and, as Head of Product, to develop solutions that deliver for people. A strong sense of purpose centres and anchors my team. It also helps harmonize all the parts of my life, because I feel both time at work and time at home have tremendous value.

Watch for the next article in this series in mid-October 2021.
Read our previous article in this series.

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