When I entered the conference room at JPMorgan office today most of the women were already there, welcoming each other, talking enthusiastically, grabbing a salad before sitting down to listen to Ann Doherty, Managing Director of EMEA Investor Services at JPMorgan.
On the Agenda for the interactive lunch seminar stood a series of interesting topics: gender diversity, social mobility, JPMorgan philanthropy.
“It is so wonderful to be in a room full of women!” started Ann Doherty.
This is exactly how I felt when I entered the conference room a few minutes before. A room full of lively women getting to know each other, ready to listen to Ann’s experience, ready to share their own experience.
“Brought up in Ireland, daughter of a sheep farmer, first of 5 sisters, married with a 10 years old daughter” is how Ann introduced herself. She was the first of her family to go to university, an example for all her sisters that just followed through. Her father who paid for university for all daughters used to joke that he only had money either for wedding or college education and that they had to choose.
Ann has worked at JPMorgan for over 27 years running different teams within Investor Services. She finds her job extremely interesting due to the fact that she deals with clients in over 40 countries and 19 different regulators. “Just to be able to travel & understand so many different cultures & how people do business has been an extraordinary learning experience for me” she said.
According to her the most important advice to develop a career is ”continual education & get an opportunity wherever you find it”. Education not just via formal learning but also and mostly via experience. Although she has been within the same company for over 27 years, she feels that the dimensions of her job have changed all the time making her learn new things every day and advancing her within the company.
The second important point that she had for the audience was “support”. Support is a key-word that often comes up in KvinnoKapital events which is also one of the values of our organization. Ann spoke warmly about how it is important to stretch yourself within your organization and take calibrated risks knowing that your manager and your organization supports you in this. “Find support around yourself in the organization in order to take small steps and build your career” she mentioned.
Being one of the few female leaders at JPMorgan, diversity and getting more women on board is of high importance to Ann. After working many years with diversity issues her experience is that in order to bring forward changes, it is important to have senior male leaders on your side and even let them lead the discussion and change at the top level.
When working with diversity at company level it is very important to set specific targets at each level in the organization and follow the development through time monitoring results via data and statistics.
At this point, there were a lot of interventions and good comments from the audience as the general feeling is that we are lagging behind with diversity and that only baby steps are taken. Changing the company culture and the mind set in order to progress with diversity is a real challenge. Women cut off from career opportunities due to maternity leave is a huge challenge. Although diversity ranks high up in corporate agenda now days, huge differences exists at country level, often rooted in the specific country culture.
Ann ended the lunch seminar by telling the audience about JPMorgan philanthropy project, a real force for good where JPMorgan involves in different projects both in distressed areas and suburbs of different cities as well as to support education for kids of low-income families. In particular the education project does not stop with just giving funds for college education but also following the kids all the way and helping them find a good, stable job after university.
The lunch seminar ended with a good discussion around the table with women asking questions, commenting on Ann’s points and sharing their experience.
A well-attended and very interesting lunch seminar where we thanks Lidia