Careers Blog

International Women's Day 2023

Q&A with Oversight Board Member Annamaria

08 Mar 2023

When did you join Hymans Robertson’s Oversight Board?

In the middle of the pandemic. Like many new colleagues at that time, I didn’t actually meet people face to face for several months. The whole interview process and many of our first board meetings were 100% virtual. Despite this or maybe because of it, we managed to get to know each other well and developed a good way of working in this virtual environment. I have to say though it was a great pleasure to finally meet everyone face to face in Glasgow at the November partners meeting and have more informal conversations!  

Can you explain the role and who you work with?

I am a non-executive member of the Oversight Board. I work with the members to oversee the design and implementation of the Hyman’s strategy. Our mandate is to take a long-term view when considering the strategic plans. We also oversee risk management and check that it's in line with the partners’ defined risk appetites. Ultimately, we are there to safeguard the interests of Hymans and their customers. We don’t vote, we just advise.

What are the best bits about your Hymans role?

It's fantastic to be on a board where everyone wants the best for the whole firm, that does not mean that there is always agreement, but you know that there are no hidden agendas. I also love the diversity of the various business lines and the desire to balance commercial outcomes with staff wellbeing and corporate social responsibility. 

Tell us about your career highlights to date?

I've had a long career in investment management and wealth management. There have been many milestones along the way. It's not the promotions or exam achievements or even the industry awards I remember most. I remember leading my team through the financial crisis, one of the most stressful times in my entire career, when we had little to rely on anything other than our wits and markets were in complete disarray. We came out the other end as a cohesive group, wiser and knowing that we did our best for our clients and that we all pulled together.

It's fantastic to be on a board where everyone wants the best for the whole firm... I also love the diversity of the various business lines and the desire to balance commercial outcomes with staff wellbeing and corporate social responsibility. 

Annamaria Koerling - Hymans Robertson

What are your interests outside of work?

I studied German and French at university and learnt Italian from my mother. Languages are like muscles, you need to use them, or you lose them, so I read and watch films, alternating languages and playing online scrabble against the machine in Italian! My husband is German and always watches the news and political discussions in German which helps!

Scuba diving is an activity I first did on honeymoon in Hawaii 30 years ago but didn’t pick up again until our oldest daughter was 10 and she announced that she wanted to learn to dive. I couldn’t face the thought of her disappearing under the water for half an hour and did all the qualifications with her. It has become a shared interest for us. I made it as far as the PADI rescue diver and still enjoy diving whenever I can, I find it calming as you are so entirely focused on what you are doing that you forget everything else.

Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

I have to say my mother even though it sounds corny. She was a feisty lady who believed in hard work and following through on your commitments but also in listening to your heart. She made a very brave decision to move to a new country in 1947 after meeting and falling in love with my father. She was 22, spoke little English initially. Life was not easy, she encountered prejudice and experienced hardship but remained resolute and toughed it out.

She became a trade adviser for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and worked most of her life other than a career break when I finally arrived 18 years into the marriage. I have so much respect for what she achieved and gratitude for the sacrifices both my parents made for me.  

Who would be your three ideal female dinner guests, dead or alive, and what would they bring to the party?

I think I would invite historical figures who somehow changed the course of history. They would bring a different perspective to the world we find ourselves in today and perhaps would give wise counsel. I often wonder if our children will look back at this time and tell us we should have been braver and fought for the greater good and campaigned for change more actively.

  • I would invite Emmeline Pankurst who wasn’t afraid to get arrested numerous times in her campaign for women’s rights
  • Marie Curie who sacrificed more than her health in her determination to pursue her scientific research
  • Rosa Parks who became one of the central figures in the civil rights movement in the US in 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a bus so a white man could sit down. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I am hugely grateful to my husband who has always given me a positive push throughout my career. There have been several occasions when he propelled me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to put myself forward for promotions or new roles. I wouldn’t have been so successful in my career if he had not encouraged me to believe in myself.  

Women bring the skills, different perspectives and structural and cultural difference to drive effective solutions.

Annamaria - Hymans Robertson

This year the International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity.  What does this mean to you?

To me it means celebrating, valuing and harnessing our differences. This is a call to collective action or activism which is in all of our best interests.  

What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?

We've come a long way since I started work in the early 90s. However, when I look at my daughters and their experiences, I realise that we still have much to achieve. Most young women have experienced some form of harassment simply walking home at night, they still encounter unconscious bias, gender stereotypes and are treated differently from their male peers. To slightly adapt a quote I read, 'the positive is that we nowadays are all invited to the party, but we still don’t get treated the same once we are there'. 

In your view, why do we need more women in leadership?

Businesses and countries need leaders that have diverse skill sets. Innovation can only come from diverse ideas and players.

In short, female leaders change the way global solutions are forged. This is why we need women at all levels in the workforce. Diverse teams achieve better outcomes and are more effective in driving change.

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