In June, KvinnoKapital’s nomination committee accepted the challenging task to find three deputy directors to support our efforts on the board and to ensure a smooth continuity in the years to come. Despite the ongoing restrictions imposed by the pandemic, which prevented them from mingling with fellow members and connecting in person, Julia, Louise and Veronica managed to reach out to the network and they were fortunate to receive a high number of high-quality applications. After careful considerations, they proposed for election three women with unique profiles that perfectly complement the board’s existing skillset. While their careers are at different stages and their respective fields of expertise vary very much, they have something in common: their passion for helping other women access and thrive in the asset management industry.
In this first series of what we hope will become a recurring feature of member interviews, we take the opportunity to introduce you to these three amazing women: Gabriella Bergström, Hanna Edstroem and Sara Ottosson. Each of them shared a story about why networking is important, particularly for women in the asset management business.
Lead younger women by example
Gabriella Bergström is the most junior addition to the board. She graduated from university only last year. However, through part-time jobs and internships, she has already been able to explore several areas of the industry such as trading, academic research and traditional fund management. In July last year, Gabriella joined Lyxor ETF as sales trainee. It was through one of her new colleagues that she came to apply and joined KvinnoKapital. “I attended as many events as I could during the fall 2019 and was so impressed by the organization itself and its members,” she says.
“It seems crucial to me that women lead by example and show other women that the financial industry is open and full of opportunities for them. Many women unfortunately still disregard career opportunities in finance because they believe it to be a ‘boys club’,” Garbriella says.
“When I was at university, I was considering the option of doing a PhD and talked to a representative for the PhD programs at a career fair,” she recalls. “This senior woman wanted to grow the number of female PhD applicants and she therefore arranged for me to meet her daughter, a current PhD student. While I didn’t apply to the program at that time, I found this encounter tremendously inspiring and it remains my dream to get a doctorate someday. Furthermore, the PhD student offered me to work for her as a research assistant which provided me with invaluable skills that I have since been able to put to good use of in other roles.”
As part of the board of KvinnoKapital, Gabriella would like to help promote the network to the younger generations of women, entering the sector. “I would love to help inspire more women to consider the asset management industry and to highlight what a great community KvinnoKapital has become,” she explains. “I have been active in different types of non-profit organizations for more than ten years and I have acquired some useful experience in event organization, member recruitment and promotional activities, for example.”
From Sweden to the world… and back!
Hanna Edstroem has worked in the financial industry for almost 15 years, in different parts for the world. Today, she lives in Zurich where she works as Executive Director for LGT Capital Partners and builds partnerships with investors in the Nordics, where she is native from.
“I have always found it extremely valuable to be part of strong networks,” she says. “When we moved back from Asia about two years ago, I started searching for interesting networks in Sweden and came across KvinnoKapital. The first event I went to was a lunch seminar with Diana van Maasdijk from Equileap and I immediately felt it was right. Such a welcoming group of women!”
“At one of the first events, I started talking to one of the ladies. We realized we had some friends in common and got into a very interesting discussion. We work in a similar role but for very different companies. Today she is one of my closest sparring partners. Our encounter has been really valuable for both of us, in so many ways. I particularly enjoy that we can work together and not see each other as competitors.”
As part of the board, Hanna wants to put her energy at the service of the community. In Asia, where she spent several years, she took an active role in running Businet, a network for Nordic women in executive positions and she found it exceptionally rewarding. Organising engaging events or bringing up exciting content for our website are only a couple the things she has in mind to speed up positive change in the Nordic asset management industry.
Hanna shares a piece of wisdom that has served her well. “If you quit a job, always do it respectfully and on good terms, you never know what will happen later in life. The same goes if someone in your team leaves,” she advises. “For me, I was very happy to re-join the company I left a few years earlier. When I first left, I was clear with management that I only left because we wanted to see more of the world When it was time to move back, they offered me a new role.”
Inspiring confidence and trust
Sara Ottosson has worked within the finance industry for more than 15 years. She started at Nordea Markets for the first four years and then held various positions as Carnegie Investment Bank, in communication, sales and asset management. During her time at both Nordea and Carnegie Sara have been involved in, and also founded various gender initiatives. One example is the Carnegie Women’s Club – a network for female clients of Carnegie. Today, she works at the Swedish House of Finance, Sweden’s National Research Center for Finance Research, and part of the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), as Head of Communication. Sara also drives her organisation’s Women in Finance Initiative. “I came in contact with KvinnoKapital through a colleague of mine who was part of the network and advised me to apply for membership,” Sara says.
“When working as a financial advisor for high net individuals I met with several clients, who were happy to finally have a female advisor,” Sara recalls. “At the time, we were only 3 female advisors in a team of 23. In particular, female clients felt more attention from us and as a consequence, trusted us more. It was as if I knew their needs better. When we organised exclusive events for women, they were more eager to ask questions and interact. As women’s presence among company owners, board directors, senior managers and wealthy individuals increases, we need to provide an arena where we feel secure and listened to. KvinnoKapital and similar organisations need to promote women and create awareness to the gender bias we still have in the industry.”
As part of the board, Sara wants to use her passion, her hands-on approach and her network within the financial sector to expand the reach of the network. “I have been passionately involved in and fought for gender equality my whole career, and I hope to be able to contribute to KvinnoKapital with the expertise that I have accumulated in this field,” she adds.
Sara leaves us with a precious piece of advice. “When choosing an employer, always prioritize people (especially managers and peers) over responsibilities. I have had the fortune to work for two fantastic managers, but I have also witnessed devastating result with sub-par management,” she concludes