The scent of mulled wine (glögg) and the soft snow falling outside the windows of a cosy Stockholm location (atSix) provided the perfect backdrop for KvinnoKapital’s last event for 2022. Many of the network’s members took the opportunity to mingle and load up on inspiration and insights, courtesy of Janus Henderson Investors and the firm’s Chief Risk Officer, Georgina Fogo.
Greeting the network with a disarmingly warm smile, Georgina starts her informal talk by confessing that, like many other women she knows, she finds it difficult to talk about herself. “So, thanks for pushing me outside of my comfort zone,” she says.
As an intro to who she is, Georgina has prepared a colourful collage of her life. Her international background is immediately evident from the collection of postcards, glimpses of a colourful life, that she shares with us generously. Born in New Zealand, she spent years in Vanuatu before settling in the UK and working in California for a couple of years. “I love working for global firms. It is so thrilling meeting people from different cultures and learning from them. In fact, I can’t imagine not working for a global firm,” she says.
“My husband has enough confidence for both of us,” jokes Georgina. She tells us that he is a risk-taker and often drags her with him. Like going sailing, for instance. Her husband is an expert sailor, and occasionally she has to be part of his crew. “I am a terrible sailor, though,” confesses Georgina. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Which, according to her, just means that she has to listen very carefully to the captain, be able to assemble the information quickly and act decisively on it.
The most significant moment in her career was when she was asked to move to San Francisco to set up a team for Barclays. “My immediate reaction was ‘no way’,” says Georgina. She had just built up a team in London; she didn’t know anything about US regulations, etc. Yet her risk-taker of a husband had different advice: “Are you mad? Of course, you should take the offer.” Years later, when she was getting proper managerial training, her professional coach gave her similar advice, to never say no to a career opportunity. She never regretted taking the job in California, by the way, despite the horrible timing. She moved there just two weeks before the financial crisis struck, which might have been a blessing in disguise, in hindsight.
At Janus Henderson, apart from being a risk manager, Georgina also chairs the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Her passion for these issues really comes through in her talk. The way she talks about the advantages of creating an inclusive environment and the importance of nurturing authenticity is almost contagious.
What is truly impressive is her warm humour and genuine humility. “I have never been the first choice for any of the roles that I have had,” she says, explaining how time after time, they would hire somebody else for a position she’d applied for. Then, when it wouldn’t work, they would ask her to do it, and that is when she would shine. Whether she felt prepared for the challenge or not. And so, the advice to her mentees, as well as to the women at KvinnoKapital, is to take any chance they are offered right away and prove that they can do it.
“You don’t look like a risk manager” is something Georgina hears a lot. Soft-spoken and feminine, she says she seldom wears a suit as she doesn’t feel comfortable in one. This brings her back to the need to be authentic and to allow other people around to be authentic, too.
Another advice to take with us is how to act when you find yourself sidestepped and unappreciated at work. Leaving is not always the right move, according to Georgina. You should talk to someone. Find a senior sponsor in your organisation whom you can trust, not HR. Don’t be afraid to approach them. Also, you shouldn’t wait until your boss sees you are unhappy, which is often something women do. And then they leave without saying anything.
Georgina also shares some interesting research on the effects of hybrid working on women’s careers, post-pandemics. Although working from home allows for more flexibility which is appreciated by women who carry the bulk of the responsibility for childcare and house chores, it is not only positive. Men, who are more willing to return to the office, have become more visible, while women are being overlooked for promotions.
Georgina also tells us about the many DEI initiatives that Janus Henderson is currently supporting and sponsoring, from working on gender-neutral job descriptions to helping women move into investment roles or rejoin the workforce.
As we wrap up the event, Georgina’s warm and insightful talk feels like an early Christmas present to all of us at KvinnoKapital.
Georgina also provided the link to some follow-up documents: