Ana Paula Pedroni - Masters in Finance 2020, London Business School.
"As a Latin American female working in finance, I consider it very important to attract more women to the industry...I would love to see more women in top management to inspire the next generation"
When I think back to the start of my career, my path is completely different to what I thought it would be. There comes a point in life, when we need to figure out who we are and who we want to be. It is hard but the sooner we do it, the better, so we can pursue the opportunities that are right for us. I want to share the story of how an 18-years old young woman in Mexico City decided to begin a career in the investment management industry, worked in some of the largest financial firms in Mexico and had the opportunity to manage more than 5 billion dollars in assets.
As the youngest daughter of a teacher and a dentist, I grew up knowing that receiving a good education is one of the most important elements in becoming a free, mature, and independent person. I thank my parents for the efforts they made so that my sister and I could receive that kind of education.
I studied Economics but I have to say that the Equity Markets lecture surprised me in a very positive way. A semester before I graduated, I joined one of the big four consulting firms, part-time. After a few months I developed a morning routine, looking at the state of the global financial markets, reading the newspapers and researching the stock markets and all the concepts learnt in class started to make more sense. This was not related to my job but I spent a lot of time on it which led me to explore my curiosity and look for a role related to financial markets. I joined one of the leading brokerage houses in Mexico as an equity research analyst.
As an analyst, I learnt to build financial models, interpret accounting statements and create sell-side research reports. I had the occasion to learn from different companies, sectors and types of businesses, delving deep into their numbers and being creative to forecast their growth. With this, I was able to arrive at a target price for the stock and give investment recommendations.
Private bankers were always asking for my top picks, what to buy or sell and when. Being an expert in a sector takes time and requires repetitive practice before you can ever hope to rise to the top. What I really liked about my role was the ability to train in all aspects and focus on specific factors that could have an impact on a company’s perspective and thereby, its stock price.
I spent some years on research and giving investment recommendations, but I really wanted to be involved in the investment decision process. I jumped from the sell-side to the buy-side, first as a financial analyst (in mutual funds) and later on, as I evolved and enhanced my skillsets, a portfolio manager (in the second largest pension fund in Mexico).
Managing other peoples money is a huge responsibility and at the same time requires a delicate balance of tenacity and attention to detail in order to achieve good returns. Our main goal was to deliver high-impact results so that millions of Mexicans could enjoy a more comfortable retirement. All our hard work generated great rewards for the entire team – we were ranked among the top three funds in the country and through great returns, the main goal was achieved, to change the lives of millions of people for the better.
However, it was an uphill journey. I needed to excel technically but also develop soft skills to conduct face-to-face meetings with clients, my peers and management. I learnt how to perform investment due diligence, evaluate equity IPOs, and analyze new investment vehicles such as REITs, SPACs, energy and infrastructure investment trusts. To succeed, we also needed to work under pressure while delivering excellence.
The long-lasting friendship I made and the support of my former boss are great gifts from being part of a well-known firm so early in my career. He showed me the value of a great mentor. In my last role I had an opportunity to mentor young professionals, encouraging them to keep learning and be more proactive in relevant tasks to pursue a career in finance. When people from diverse backgrounds with different skills work together, there is possibility to create value for clients and have an impact in the community.
As a Latin American female working in finance, I consider it very important to attract more women to the industry. Equal representation definitely matters, not through imposed quotas, but more through structural changes based on skills and opportunities in order to flatten the gender curve. The trend is changing but I would love to see more women in top management to inspire the next generation.
Like any other industry, being curious and learning continuously is key to fuel your growth. I like this industry because I find limitless opportunities to develop as a professional. Even though my expertise is in public equities, there is room to keep learning from a wide range of other fields such as private markets, alternative investments or sustainable investments, cryptocurrencies, big data and machine learning to name a few. The more you know, the more perspectives you have. That’s why I decided to pause my career for a year to pursue a Masters in Finance at London Business School. It’s been a great journey.
My experience in this industry has been characterised by multiple challenges that I have had to overcome but also by the great results that I’ve been able to deliver. It has shaped me as an efficient, value-seeking, results-oriented professional. Since the beginning I have witnessed the enormous reach that a young professional can have through strong convictions.
Being a GAIN ambassador has given me the opportunity to join a community of talented women in a male-dominated industry in a different country giving me fresh perspectives, while also giving me the chance to build a network overseas.
In these challenging times, the industry requires more talented people who can be open, enthusiastic and collaborative but also go the extra mile. If this resonates with you, you can rest assured that your hard work will pay off.