Stay informed, stay prepared, and be proactive

Dec 01, 2017
Olwyn Alexander, PwC’s global asset and wealth management leader, talks about her path to success.

You are responsible for 18,200 people. How do you manage and motivate such a vast team of experts? 

I have always led from the front in terms of my work ethic, my dedication to clients and my passion for the asset and wealth management industry. I have learned from the best the importance of engaging with our people and taking a personal interest, so much of my time will be spent visiting our important practices globally, meeting with our people and their clients out in the field. It’s a team effort.  

Looking back on your career, what do you think was the key to your professional success? 

There was probably a number of influential junctures in my career to date. Doing ‘tours of duty’ to Dallas, Boston and then New York had a large impact on my knowledge and learning, as well as my network of colleagues and clients.

Taking the Chartered Financial Analysts exams also made a difference in my favour in terms of a skill set. It gave me a new perspective of the industry that was helpful to our clients. The investment PwC makes to keep their people trained, both in technical and soft skills, is of huge benefit to anyone in the firm and has kept me informed and prepared. 

Part of your role is to help companies prepare for the future. What trends do you expect to see over the next decade? 

In PwC, we’re very bullish on the potential for growth in assets under management (we predict to $145 trillion by 2025) and we see lots of opportunities and four key trends: a stable buyers’ market; businesses realising the importance of embracing exponential change in the technology and digital space; opportunities for asset and wealth management to fund the future in terms of financing private investments; and investors continuing to focus on multi-asset outcome-based solutions. These four trends will transform our industry into the next decade. It will be a case of survival of the fittest. 

Given your work on a number of boards, what is your take on the current governance landscape in Ireland? 

Ireland really has a high standard of corporate governance by international standards and should be rightfully proud of the knowledge and experience that professionals have developed in that area.

With each passing day there are significantly more demands of those in governance positions – from cyber security to data protection to strategy for the future, to workforces of the future and talent management, there are myriad issues facing corporates and boards have such a wide scope to cover in the discharge of their duties as stewards. 

As an experienced mentor, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve given a mentee? 

Take control of your career. You will be more successful if you are proactive, decide what experience you want to obtain and go for it. I also advise anyone who can to travel and work abroad. There is nothing like working with different people, different clients, different cultures and environments to broaden your horizons and create a network. 

Taking a personal interest in people you meet can help you reap such rewards.