Her story of embracing uniqueness

Lesley Marks, Chief Investment Officer, Equities, at Mackenzie Investments, believes that many organizations today are aware of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, and yet progress toward gender diversity has been slow in portfolio management. It’s time for organizations to think differently about how they can build more diverse teams while ensuring women have both a strong voice at the table and an equal chance of achieving success. Here’s her story.

Think beyond consensus

When I started my career journey as a fundamental equity research analyst, my role was to pitch ideas to portfolio managers. The assumption was that the consensus view was reflected in the stock price, so the challenge was to create an investment thesis different from the consensus view. You quickly learn to think independently to create alpha-generating ideas for the portfolio, or you don’t progress to portfolio manager. This helped shape the way I approach opportunities today. I consistently ask myself, ”Am I thinking differently about this problem?”

Embrace your uniqueness

When I started leading investment teams, I had the choice to lead like everyone else or embrace my differentiating attributes by bringing forward unique perspectives built from my own experiences. I chose the latter. Swimming upstream is always harder, especially if it involves sharing different points of view than others may have, but it’s the only way for us to elevate business to the next level in a competitive landscape. The additive effect of several unique perspectives is what often creates an even more impactful outcome.

Don’t undervalue your skills

Never assume you don’t have the right skills to be successful. I took a traditional path through business school, then got my Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, but many of the skills that made me successful as a portfolio manager and leader go beyond what I learned in school. We don’t always know the road our career will take, but having confidence in my abilities and building important skills like thinking critically, analyzing business strategy, reading people, managing risk and multitasking were more impactful in my career progression than what I learned in business school.

Follow your passion

Whatever you pursue in your career aspirations, know your why — the purpose of what you do. I chose my career based on what was interesting to me. When I started studying the markets, I was truly energized, and I think that passion was a big contributor to my success. For me, what I do comes down to helping people achieve better financial outcomes. That’s often something they can’t do on their own, but, with my help, they can focus on parts of their lives that are more joyful for them. I’m very clear on how I make a difference.

Watch for the next article in this series in June 2021
Read our previous article in this series.

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