Rebecca Thomas, Founder and CEO of Mint Asset Management, spoke at the INFINZ emerging leaders series, on leading a commercially focussed team. She gave guidance on gaining the business skills required to move from a subject matter expert to a broader business leader.
Rebecca graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and after graduating, went into a generalist programme which allowed her to move around the organisations. She started her career in the finance industry as a Small Cap Analyst, where she learnt about running a business. From there, she became a Fund Manager where she learnt about the product side. Whenever she felt like she was getting too comfortable she looked for opportunities to expand her skill set which included putting her name forward for stretch assignments, including time in Russia and Paris.
In 1996, Rebecca went on to become the first female CEO of Johnson Fry PLC (now Legg Mason Investors) in London, and the youngest CEO of an FTSE-listed company. After several other leadership positions, including CIO of ING NZ, in 2006, she founded Mint Asset Management, which is when she became one of few female founders and CEOs of a financial services business in New Zealand.
A key piece of advice for those looking to move from subject matter experts to business leader was, “You have to know enough about every part of the business” she said, “Career isn’t a ladder it’s a jungle gym. Sometimes you’ve got to go back to go forward.”
One skill she said has helped her along the way was being able to clearly communicate a few simple points. She stressed the importance of clear and achievable KPIs for teams. The key attributes she looks at for people in her company are passion, conviction, and authenticity.
When asked about nurturing people within your organisation to become leaders, she spoke about knowing your staff well, their skills and goals, advocating for them and putting them forward for projects and stretch assignments. This applies particularly to female employees, because research by the Harvard Business Review indicates that women feel they need to meet 100% criteria before applying for a role, while men usually apply after meeting 60% of the criteria. Therefore, it’s important to make sure everyone in an organisation feels empowered and is considered when it comes to opportunities.
Rebecca’s final pieces of advice to young emerging leaders was to ask for opportunities, put your hand up, get involved, and don’t get stuck in your comfort zone.
Disclaimer: Rebecca Thomas is the Chief Executive Officer at Mint Asset Management Limited. The above article is intended to provide information and does not purport to give investment advice.
Mint Asset Management is the issuer of the Mint Asset Management Funds. Download a copy of the product disclosure statement.
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