At Invesco, we’re on a journey to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace, where everyone feels valued equally. President and CEO Marty Flanagan sits down with two women of Invesco who are at different points in their careers to discuss the opportunities available to engage, develop and attract top talent regardless of gender, race or background.
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Marty Flanagan, President and CEO:
I've been at Invesco for 18 years, and one of the things I'm most proud of right now is the culture of the firm and what makes up the culture of the firm is the people. And we all know great firms are a collection of talented people, but people have diversity of thought, diversity of opinions, different backgrounds. And today we're going to talk about an area that we've got a lot of work to do. We started about 12 years ago on improving gender diversity within the organization. We've made progress. We're not done. And I'm thrilled to have Donna and Lauren today. We're going to talk about their journey, what's working here at Invesco, what we can do better, and really, you know, the benefits of a culture that cares about one another.
So Donna has been a good friend now, she has been here longer than I have. I'm going to leave it at that. I know she looks a lot younger than I am, and by the way, she is. But Donna's been a real force in many things. But gender diversity is one of them, a leader of the women's network here. And it has some very important roots. And so do you mind giving us some of your thoughts in the journey that you sort of not just yourself, you sort of helped Invesco move forward on?
Donna Wilson, Head of Investment Due Diligence:
Sure. So as you mentioned, Marty, the women's network started about 12 years ago here at Invesco. And the genesis of that was actually the Karen Dunn Kelley, who was an SMD at the time, was given the merit award by the Women's Bond Club of New York. And Karen was asked as part of her interview what she was doing to for diversity for women at Invesco. And she said the question stumped her a little bit.
And she felt she kind of felt, you know, didn't feel good about her answer. And she made a commitment that day to make a change. And from that, from that time, that same year, we we joined the Women's Bond Club, Invesco as a firm, joined the Women's Bond Club, and there were 40 women that were included in that membership. And we use that membership as a way to how do we how do we start a women's network, What should we be focusing on? And you know, what else do our employees in Invesco need? And that was mentorship, guidance.
And so out came IMentor from that, from the Women's Bond, from IWN, and we also looked at the trickle down, how do we get other women involved. And so we started our chapters. Right now we have 20 chapters globally. So from that award that Karen was given and the insights we learned from the Women's Bond Club, IWN was founded and has grown to what it is today.
Well, in fact, I'll never forget that night. There must have been 1500 people there and the energy in the room and the importance was just absolutely so clear. And so you and Karen, the other leaders have really done something special. And you know, what I find really important is that it's now global here at Invesco. And when I travel the world and spend time with the different chapters, you know, the pride and the importance of what it's done is really important. And so a big thank you to you, Donna.
Absolutely. It's been an honor for me to actually become engaged with the Invesco Women's Network. And, you know, some people for me, sometimes you have your head down, you're doing your job well, but it can get a little lonely, right? And so what I learned from engaging with the Women's Network was the relationships, knowing people that I would have never come into contact with on my day to day job here at Invesco and have those relationships today.
And so from that standpoint, that's part of building the culture bottom up, right? And it made me feel like home. And so from that perspective, Invesco Women's Network provided that for me. So that's my paying it forward is hoping that I can do that for other women at the firm and encouraging us to stay committed to the business resource groups that we now have and understanding what the value of those groups do for the culture at Invesco
And Donna, I'd say that effort was even more important than just gender diversity. And it became very clear to me for us to make progress, put that topic on my desk. And it wasn't an HR project. It was a leadership effort, and it was started with gender, right? And we had 25% of our senior leaders four years ago that were represented by women, which is just not acceptable. And when we collectively put goals out there of what we wanted to accomplish, today we're approaching 37% in that leadership group.
But it also kicked off all DEI. I mean it, this really, that is the nucleus of the 20 business resource groups, and you should be proud about it.
We should be very proud. And, you know, I think our clients want to know what we're doing in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion, right? So that's really important because they want to be attached to a firm that values that as well. So not only does it help us internally with our culture, it also helps us with our clients and engaging with them and helping them kind of say, what are you doing at your firm so that we as an asset management industry can do better?
Absolutely. So, Lauren, relatively new here. We're thrilled you're here, but can you give us some early thoughts of your immediate journey here at Invesco?
Lauren Austin, Regional Advisor Consultant:
Yeah. So when I first started out at Invesco, I signed on to the Invesco Women's Network right away, which you just made mention to. And through IWN I've learned about Rock Street, Wall Street, which is an investment in financial literacy program designed for high school girls. So volunteers from Invesco will go to Midtown High School, which is a local high school here in Atlanta, and will mentor the girls and teach them about financial literacy to hopefully spark their interest in a career in finance.
But I've loved it so much that I've been co-chairing the program for about a year now, and through both of those programs IWN and Rock the Street, Wall Street, it's been great because it's introduced me to so many different people at Invesco outside of the departments that I typically work with on a day to day basis. But it's also given me a lot of leadership and communication skills. So that's been really exceptional as well. And then going off of the mentor thing that you can get through IWN.
I'm also part of Mentoriam, which is a mentorship program here, so I was connected with Meg Roughen, who is head of CX, and it's been an absolute privilege to connect with her and get advice from her. We actually learned that we have similar backgrounds. So for all the UVA fans “Wahoo-wa.” But yeah, it's been great to get advice from her and hear how hear the lessons that she's taken away and her development, because those are things that I can learn from and take away for the rest of my career.
Yeah, thank you for doing that. And it's just it's great for your career. But by the way, it's great for Invesco and it makes us a better firm. And what I learned early on in this where I started to go to universities and we were bringing in a focus on women at the time and they were junior seniors and at university. And by that time it's almost too late. Right? They've already decided to go to, you know, one of the you know, one of the accounting firms, one of the consulting firms. And it's such a great industry. And you can have such a great career. And, you know, every day is a challenge.
And every day you can learn something new. And the industry just isn't really that well known at the university level. So really starting in high school and, you know, making a difference for young women at that time is just really important and all the other things you're doing. So that's great.
Yeah, we actually had a field trip here at Invesco headquarters for all of the girls in the program, and it was so great to hear because some of them walked away saying, Oh, I want to work at Invesco when I grow up.
There we go. That's the whole plan. So I'd be interested, hear from both of you and Donna, if you don't mind. So what drew you to Invesco and what's kept you here?
So I was one of many acquisitions, but I would say what drew me to the industry was, you know, the opportunity to kind of see how we are manufacturing products that allow clients, as you would say, get the best out of life. Yes, Right. And so from that perspective, that was, you know, when I got out of business school, I was thinking about Wall Street. And I did spend some time on Wall Street. And I always liked what the person on the phone was doing versus what I was doing.
And so I kind of figured out how to make this the transition. And so from that, I learned that I was really passionate about working with portfolio teams and what I could do in terms of portfolio analytics and also the opportunity to actually interact with clients. So it was a perfect opportunity for me. And the wonderful thing is that Invesco offered me that opportunity, which was really rare. And so from that perspective, perfect fit.
And that's also the reason why I stayed so long. I was doing what I was passionate about, and I felt that I was adding value with my team and with clients and that, you know, that kind of keeps you going. And as clients needs change, we evolve and we work with them from that perspective. And also it kind of kind of keeps you focused, right? And so from that perspective, the time flew by. Marty I can't believe it.
But now I would also say that being passionate about the industry, about the functional role, given leadership opportunities, so having good management and given leadership opportunities. So that kind of keeps you motivated and competitive compensation also works. Yeah. So I would say that all of those things have led to me, you know, wanting to be at Invesco and, you know, having a CEO like you who, who actually says, “Hi, Donna,” you know, it kind of works. It kind of makes you feel like you're known. And I think a lot of people just want to simply be acknowledged. Right. And say, hey, thank you for what you do. You know, I'm aware of all your contributions to the firm, not only to your job, but by volunteering on behalf of the firm. Yeah, sometimes just hearing people say thank you for all you're doing. And I think that, you know, time flew by, and I kept my focus, and I'm still focused and happy.
Well, I, I love the idea that it was a phone conversation that said, I want to be one of you. And you have been. And you know, the reality, though, as you say, Donna, looking back in your career, you know, you are now the fabric of Invesco. I mean, it is people like you that have been so committed to clients and making a difference and having the culture evolve over time where it needed to. And also just your role in being such an important mentor and to advance us in so many different ways. So it's been an unbelievable pleasure to work with you.
So. All right, you're up. What do you thinking?
So I was initially drawn to Invesco. I have a little bit of a unique story. So Barrett Kemp, she's a senior advisor consultant here. She initially started working at the firm prior to me, she's one of my best friends. We actually grew up in the same hometown and she was even my big sister in our sorority in college. So she piqued my interest because she always had amazing things to say. And so now that I'm working here and I've been here for almost two years, I can attest to those things myself.
So I would say that Invesco really stands out because of the people who do work here, regardless of tenure, seniority. I think that everyone is willing to help, and it's obvious that we're working towards a larger goal. And then it also seems to me that Invesco really values feedback, which makes me feel valued as an employee and like I'm part of the bigger picture. On top of that, the opportunities for internal promotion. So I started out in an entry level role, and since then I've been promoted and I can't even count on two hands the amount of people who I've seen promoted in my short time here, which makes me excited for all the future opportunities because it's important for me to work with a company that I'm going to be with for a while.
And so it's obvious that Invesco really values keeping the talent that they acquire. And then lastly, I would just say that Invesco has a global presence, which is great to see. I recently started studying for my CFA, which is an internationally recognized designation, and so knowing that Invesco has offices all over the world is exciting for me because it could afford me an opportunity to work in an international setting in the future.
That's, that's wonderful. And I, I just want to encourage you that I think one of the best things about Invesco is that we're global. It is such an important part of one's career and I'd continue to keep that top of mind and pursue it. And there's endless opportunities. And let me just pick up on both your comments. I've been here 18 years and Donna said, it goes really fast. The thing that I'm most proud of is really the culture of the firm and some of the things that come out about the culture of the firm is it's a culture that cares about employees, it's a culture, cares about clients.
And I just don't say that it comes from these surveys you talk about and we use as a really important tool. The participation rates are stunning. And the reason why is because we actually pay attention to them, right? And it has helped us be wide eyed to areas where we need to improve. And you're never done improving. And so I think that's also what's important about the culture. It's it tries to be self-aware and to continue to grow. So that's really great.
So, Marty, turning it back to you, you recently announced that you're going to be retiring in a few months. Congratulations. Thank you. Yeah. So I'm curious to know what you're most proud of about the firm or what has kept you going through all the ups and downs of the industry?
It's a great question. And as I said, 18 years goes really fast. And I met Donna was one of the first people I met here at one of these Global Partner Meetings way back when.
Well, first of all, I circle back to the comments I just made. You know, the culture of the firm is something that's really important to me, which what it really means, it's the people. It's a great group of people. It's a smart group of people. It's a group of people that care about one another. They want to help each other. They want they care about clients, and that'll get you out of bed every morning. There's no question the industry has gone through such dramatic change over the past ten years, probably in particular at a pace that would have been unimaginable.
And so you're right with that, you get excited about the opportunity, but you better be on your front foot or you're going to you're going to miss the boat right, you know, the across the river and doing it with a bunch of people that really care has been a lot of fun. And but with it, too, you're right. You know this combination of, in a bull market, you think you're pretty smart. And by the way, you shouldn't think you're that smart in a bear market. You're probably not as dumb as the market might tell you, but it takes you on rides.
Right. And, you know, things just in relatively short time from the financial crisis, living through a period like that to a pandemic, which you would have said that's not that will never happen. And we've lived that. And could you imagine a ground war in Russia? It's stunning that you could imagine that would happen today. And quite frankly, you know, the two largest economies in the world, in China and the United States, are really challenging one another on a geopolitical level. That is something that we have to pay attention to because it impacts our clients and their portfolios.
And long winded to say what's great about the industry is everything that's happening anywhere in the world will have an impact on your clients. And so that's really exciting. So you're always going to be learning if you're going to continue to advance. So and again, when I look at my successor, Andrew Schlossberg, and the executive leadership team and individuals like Donna, the leadership group here, it's the most talented group of people that's ever been in Invesco.
And I couldn't be more excited for the future of Invesco and our clients, our shareholders and all of our colleagues.
So from the person, from the perspective of having the memory of when you joined and where we were at that point, Marty, you're kind of modest, right? Because we were a firm that kind of joined by acquisitions. There were there were cultures in each of those organizations. And today we're a trillion and a half, right? And we've actually tried to be one culture, even though we have all these 20 plus offices around the world, you know, many countries, that's phenomenal.
And now we you know, from my perspective, from where we were when you joined in 2005 to where we are today in terms of our competitiveness, our vision, where our competitors are now struggling, we are well entrenched. You know, there are that's leadership, right? And so from, leadership and the culture of the firm, from somebody who saw it back then and somebody sees it today, I mean.
Well, thank you, Donna.
It's everybody. But I will say, those are some exciting times in 2005. So glad to see those in the rearview mirror. Yeah, exactly. So, Donna, Lauren, interesting conversation, wide ranging, but really focused on advancing the firm. And we've talked about the progress we've made. But as I've said, we're not done and we have more to do. So I'd love to get your thoughts on what is the way forward from your perspective. And Donna, if you don't mind starting.
Sure. Okay. We've made great progress. I'm very proud of the messaging that comes from both you and Andrew in terms of our diversity efforts. And you've been very clear on that. One of the things I think is imperative for a future is, is having that trickle down a little bit more to middle management, right? What our goals are in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion and having them understand that that actually is a business goal.
It's not separate. Right? So I think most people now are some managers see it as separate, right? It's actually it's the same, right. How we want to be as a business, as a culture, as a firm. Those are tied together. And I believe that managers need to be aware, need to be accountable for those outcomes. And I'm not sure it trickles down now as much as the messaging that you and Andrew provide.
That's really good feedback. And, you know, we need to push that because there is no separation between the two. They are absolutely. One. The reality is the best firms are firms that are diverse because it's different perspectives, it's different views, and we become a better firm because of that. So it's not an option. And that's a really good point and some we need to follow up on.
But, you know, I look at the firm now and I see, you know, there's four women on our corporate board of directors.
It was zero when I got here. Right? We have an African American male on the board. We have three women SMDs now. Right. I mean, so we've made progress. We're at the 40% kind of level in terms of senior women at the firm. It's but there's so much more to do. And I don't want anyone to feel as though check the box. Right. And so it's important for us to kind of stay committed and push further for more gains because it's absolutely possible. And there is a lot more that we can do.
Yeah, that's those are all really good points. And I you I want to come back to. So we look at math to understand progress which is really important, right? Say you can't go on a diet and not get on a scale. Right. Although I'd like to do that. But the reality really, everybody has the job they have because they deserve it. And I think that's why we've done it wasn't a box checking exercise. It was a talent exercise. And the people in the roles that have them, they deserve it. They're making a difference and we're a better firm. And you've been really important in helping craft that thought and push that thought. And I'm really proud about the progress so far. More to do, but appreciate the feedback. Lauren, how about you? Any thoughts come to mind?
So from my perspective, I would say that Invesco does do a really good job of listening, whether it be from employees or clients. We do a great job of assessing the situations that we're in and responding. And so I think the way forward is really about continuing to be innovative and coming up with a plan of action to respond as things change and then constantly evaluating and tailoring that plan to make sure that we're seeing results.
That's great. And let me just say thank you, both of you, and I'm thrilled you're here. You have a spectacular person to look up to and big shoes to fill. But again, Donna, it's been just a pleasure working with you.
This interview has been provided for educational and informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the speakers, as of March 15, 2023.