Senior Investment Analyst
Great West Life Bond Investment Team
CFA Charterholder since 2015
When Katie Woodward left her hometown of Gander, Newfoundland and headed west e to pursue her degree in mathematics at the University of Waterloo, she had no idea of what path her career would take. But she chose to heed the advice she got and kept both her mind and all of her options open, and today credits this as the best advice she could have received. “You have to put yourself out there and network, take risks, explore every career option possible and take advantage of every opportunity to gain experience and exposure in the industry.”
“I didn’t realize that my interests would lend themselves to finance, but the more I networked and explored career options, the more I realized how interrelated mathematics and finance were and how each requires problem solving,” says Katie. In her second year, she transferred over to a finance specialization stream. “I quickly realized that finance was the missing piece of the puzzle and the perfect combination of the three things I was most passionate about: a business-focused career with constantly changing mathematical problems that need to be solved.”
Not only did Katie graduate with Mathematics degree majoring in financial analysis and risk management, but she also added a minor in Computer Science and began the CFA designation while interning through the school’s co-op program. Her education, exposure and experience help her bring a distinct perspective to the table. “Diversity helps organizations make better decisions. Those with a business degree often look at the strategy first, whereas I tend to look at the numbers and trends first. Great teams are more than the sum of their parts.”
In her current role, Katie works on a fixed income portfolio in a credit risk capacity, so her job involves research and analysis of different bonds, different companies, and different trends, to understand the risk behind specific investments.
With so much information available today, the ability to isolate and communicate the salient information becomes a vital skill and one that Katie feels sets her apart from others. “Many people in the industry are brilliant but cannot either communicate their solution or ever fully communicate the problem, often leading to inefficiencies. Whether it’s sending out information to clients, briefing your boss in a morning meeting, or providing an overview of the day’s market to your team; the ability to do it effectively will significantly increase your value in the company. As well, Katie believes the ability to communicate will become even more critical in the future as fewer people will be needed to create the information, and more to interpret it.
Katie considers achieving her CFA designation as one of her most significant accomplishments. Putting in the effort and getting the reward is very gratifying as well as being a way of evening out the playing field for women. It’s not news that Finance remains a highly male-dominated industry and that this can intimidate many women entering the area. However, she says, “there are two ways to approach this challenge: you can embrace it or shy away from it,” she says. “I chose to embrace the challenge by being confident and recognizing myself as an equal— even when others may not have,” she admits. Her objective was to build her reputation based on her skillset— not her gender. To do so Katie eagerly accepted every opportunity she could to demonstrate her knowledge and to take on leadership responsibilities and earned the respect of her peers. Mission accomplished.
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