Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is a leader in more ways than one. Aside from being one of the fastest growing institutional investors in the world, it is also working on improving their diversity initiatives.
Bronwyn Ward, Charissa Lai and Julie Mallory are three women who have found rewarding careers in finance with CPP Investment Board.
Bronwyn is a Portfolio Manager in the Fixed Income Group of Global Capital Markets. Her non-financial background wasn’t a hurdle to starting her career. CPPIB looks for motivated candidates from a variety of backgrounds and recognized that her talent made her an excellent fit for her current role.
Charissa (pictured above) is a recent addition to the Total Portfolio Management Group as a Senior Analyst in Private Equity Investment Research. She began her career abroad, assisting clients on international mergers, acquisitions and private equity transactions and completing an MBA in Chicago.
Julie is a Senior Analyst in Global Corporate Securities in the Quantitative Investment Research Department. Julie began her career at CPPIB just over two years ago while completing a PhD in Economics.
These three women were eager to discuss the careers they’ve started at CPPIB.
A typical day
When Bronwyn gets into the office each morning, she never knows what the day could hold.
Bronwyn Ward, Portfolio Manager
“A typical day? There’s no such thing!” she says. “Because of the diversity of investments we are involved with and the number of markets around the globe in which we are active, every day provides new challenges and new opportunities. There is never a boring moment.”
“My projects are so varied that I am constantly challenging myself to think of new ways to solve problems and drive projects forward.”
Julie starts her days by reading news, checking emails and preparing a to-do list of what she needs to accomplish that day. However, Julie’s to-do list frequently changes during the day.
“Often small issues arise that need to be dealt with immediately, or there are many things happening that I need to stay on top of,” Julie says. “These interruptions make it difficult to progress on my main projects, which typically require deep thought and focus.”
Despite the challenge of managing her time with frequent interruptions, Julie says that they also have a positive effect. She feels that they help her think more creatively – one of the challenges she particularly appreciates in her work.
A supportive culture
Julie says that she appreciates the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork present throughout operations at CPPIB.
“I have enjoyed working on my team and with other groups. I often have opportunities to voice my opinion, as it is encouraged, and my managers are genuinely interested in my development,” she explains.
Julie Mallory, Senior Analyst
Bronwyn appreciates that her career at CPPIB includes a significant amount of responsibility.
“CPPIB provides a level of autonomy that is supported and integrated by my manager,” she says. “He is confident in my abilities and is always there as a sounding board encouraging me to trust my instincts.”
This support encourages Bronwyn to take on new challenges, well aware that she has the aid she needs.
“I have not come across a single person who is not willing to take the time to answer my questions whether it be in regards to a trade idea, a new project or simply how their group fits into the overall function of the fund,” says Bronwyn.
A career in finance
Julie, Charissa and Bronwyn are unanimous in recommending a finance career at CPPIB.
Charissa says that prior to joining CPPIB she found it rare to encounter other women who worked in investment banking.
“Not only have I met and worked with so many outstanding people, I’m also happy to see that the firm has been able to attract such talented women,” she says.
“There is a pervasive feeling throughout the organization, driven by senior management, that embracing gender diversity is a critical driver in putting us at the forefront of being a smart global institution for the future.”
Bronwyn explains that this commitment isn’t just part of CPPIB operations – it’s an active and ongoing process.
“In 2012 CPPIB went above and beyond to create the Women’s Advisory Council focusing strategically on the attraction, development and retention of female employees,” she explains.
Julie feels that being a woman in finance gives her a unique perspective.
“CPPIB acknowledges that diversity is important, both in a portfolio and in the employees of an organization,” she explains. “The organization is supportive of employees challenging the status quo, and asking the question ‘why?’”
“Women should explore a career in finance at CPP Investment Board for the same reasons as men,” Julie concludes. “It is a growing organization that provides a lot of opportunity.”