Roz McLean is an Associate at Burgundy Asset Management and was the talented speaker at our GEMinar Three. GEM interviewed her to find out her secrets to success. Here she talks about her motivations, time-management skills, and passions
-Did you always know that you wanted to work in finance when you were in high school?
-I knew that I was interested in business and economics. The difference between what I do now and what I thought it was going to be like is that the field of business and economics has a lot inside of it. People stereotype that in finance it’s just about crunching a bunch of numbers. At Burgundy, we all work in finance, theoretically. However, there are lots of different jobs you can do here. You can be in relationship management, marketing, IT, or the systems and technology department that works on finding the latest innovations and helping us achieve our goals in technology. There’s a lot more diversity in finance that I think people expect.
-At GEMinar Three, you talked about time-management to achieve our goals. How do you spend your time, balancing work and your personal lifestyle?
-Time-management came home for me when I first started studying for my CFA exam because I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I wanted to do.
I had to stop doing certain things –like spend a less time with social media and with friends. It was hard not going out for dinner with my friends on Friday or Saturday night, but I got through it.
I’m most productive in the morning, so first thing when I get to the office I focus on all the thinking work I need to do, all the decisions I have to make, and all the strategy. I usually work out in the morning because my head’s clear, and I can get all that done. Then in the afternoon, I do more mechanical “I just need to get it done” tasks. I also make sure that I go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Typically, during the week, I go to bed pretty early. You feel more refreshed when you sleep for the same amount of time every night. And I spend Sunday reading. So any reading I want to do during the week, rather than letting it take up my day, I just do it on Sunday morning.
Another part of it is a little bit of multi-tasking. I stopped running as much, and I started working out on the bike, and if I’m working out on a stationary bike at the gym, I can read at the same time as biking. So I’m working out and reading the news at the same time, which normally would take up two different chunks of time.
-How can you work smarter?
-Learning to work smarter is important in order to maximize your hours. One important part of this, and I don’t want to suggest anyone to be lazy, is you have to know when to take a break to keep your mind fresh. Let’s say I’m studying for my CFA exam, or I’m working on one project. I’m not productive if I have been working on it for more than seven hours. It would be more productive if I did it for less time, but focused on maximizing the good time. You need to know when to stand up and go for a walk. You need to know when to grab a healthy snack. You need to know when you need to take a break. And make sure you take them. It’s also important not to be distracted; I always make sure to use my phone less frequently.
-How was your university experience? How do you make the most of it?
-Western is such a great school. There are lots of interesting programs. Student life is really good. There is a lot of diversity, and there are a lot of very interesting people. No matter what program you’re in, consider these two important tips. Don’t overwhelm yourself by joining too many clubs. Join a few clubs that you really want to engage with. Make sure that the club is a good fit, with a mission that matches your values, and is filled with committed people. It’s best to work with people you like and are working towards a common goal. Secondly, make the most of your professors. Go to their offices and pick their brains. My economics professor was the thesis advisor for the guy who now works as the governor of the Bank of Canada, and I’m receiving a similar education!
-How do you motivate yourself to finish tedious tasks?
-My biggest motivator is the people around me. I’ve been really fortunate at work, because I think that I’m inspired at least once a day. When I see people around me do really cool things, I try to see how the tasks I need to do fit into the bigger picture. I imagine how those small tasks will achieve the bigger goals of the firm. So when I’m working on an entire communication, I ask myself: how does that contribute to our bigger corporate goal of treating our clients really well? You have to connect all the tiny things you have to do with the bigger things. Why do I have to do my homework right now? Well, if I do my homework, I’ll achieve high marks and get into the program of my choice. Connect it back to the bigger picture! Essentially, think of your short-term goals/tasks as baby steps to achieving your long-term goal. It also helps to have inspiring people around you. If you want to connect it to the bigger task, but you also see someone else working towards a goal in a different way, it helps.