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Roz McLean and her secrets to success

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.

Time Management for 2016

Stepping into 2016 was refreshing; inspired new ideas, ambitious goals and rejuvenated energy. That is, until I opened my inbox. GEM also has ambitious and exciting plans for 2016, and two weeks away from GEM headquarters can really fill up your To-Do list quickly. By day two into the first workweek back, I felt overwhelmed and scattered. As a project manager, the goal of my role is to be organized; I am managing after all. So where does an organizer turn when they’re feeling disorganized? I opened up the GEM handbook, plugged in Time Hackers podcast, and scoured the Internet. Here are my top five tips to help you manage your time and keep on track for your 2016 goals;

1. Wake Up Earlier

I get up at 5:30 every day—that’s a lie, I get up at 5:46 every day. I get my workout in, drink my smoothie, check my calendar. That wake up time might seem early for some – it did for me for the longest time—but it means I have more hours in my day. As much as you plan your day, the unexpected always happens; you run into a friend you haven’t seen in a while and get chatting for 30 minutes, you have an important email come through that you need to address, your boss/teacher gives you an unexpected assignment, and before you know it, your well planned day gets high jacked by The External. Waking up early allows me to get in what I need to do before the day runs away on me.  

2. Triage Tasks

I write a To-Do list weekly, and daily. I know it may seem a bit redundant, but taking a few minutes to write a list helps me manage my time for the day/week and keeps me focused on tasks. Seeing all my to-do’s written down, also helps me recognize what is most important/pressing. This is the triage part. I prioritize tasks based on immediacy; this may be deadlines, looming meetings, or the most time consuming. When I tackle the most immediate tasks I feel less pressure and stress knowing that I’m hacking them off the list. And does it ever feel good to strike off items on your list!  

3. Put it In your Calendar

I live by my calendar. It is the most used app on my phone and laptop. Without fail, I check my calendar before I go to bed and right when I wake up (nothing’s changed while I’m sleeping, so it may seem strange, but I like to know what’s in store for me that day). I schedule everything; meetings, GEM events, coffee with friends, phone calls to my mom, emails I need to send. I self-deadline. Putting it in my calendar holds me accountable to my intentions and helps those around me keep on time too – don’t tell me you didn’t think I send calendar invites to my friends for coffee dates? 

4. Unplug

Yes! The saving grace most of my days. My inbox runs my world. I’m sure it does for many of you too. This is where all the traffic of my job flows through and how I keep connected to everyone. But, in order to keep on top of all my assignments, sometimes I need to disconnect. I will shut down my email for an hour at a time, just to plough through some work. Not letting email, text messages or social media distract me, means that I keep focused on tasks. This was a lesson I learned in my first role out of university. New to the workforce, I felt I needed to be on top of every email immediately. Responding to every email popping up on my screen, sometimes meant a 30-minute distraction, and by then, my mind had shifted so much from the original task. Being able to unplug throughout the day– while still responding within a reasonable time—enables me to be more efficient and successful.

5. Keep a Clear Mind

The enemy of productivity is anxiety/stress (which leads to procrastination). We’ve been there. I was there just yesterday. You’ve been sitting at your desk all day writing assignment after assignment, sending emails, running to meetings, it 4 o’clock in the afternoon and you realize you haven’t even eaten today! When you’re in this frazzled daze you feel like everything needs to get done now. Well, now, probably isn’t when you’re going to get your best work done. When I’m feeling most overwhelmed I take a break. I go for a walk, grab a coffee, chat with my colleagues or do something mundane from my list (think dusting the office). Allowing myself to just have a minute helps to control the crazys that we feel when we’re overwhelmed. You can’t be on all the time, and it is important to shake the energy, clear your mind, and refocus throughout your day.

This article is written by Cassandra Hammett, Project Manager at Girls E-Mentorship. Cass loves to write, loves to laugh and hates when people don’t have a plan. She keeps GEM running like a well oiled machine and always has a helping hand and a cup of tea for anyone on the team that needs it.



Tips for Dealing with Procrastination

Our time is a limited resource. We all prefer to spend our time on activities that are fun and enjoyable.  And we all put off doing the work that does not interest us or we find daunting. We are all procrastinators. However, unexciting projects still need to be completed. To avoid last minute stress there are a few helpful tips that help me to deal with procrastination.

GET MOTIVATED I find that the hardest part is getting started. Lack of motivation to begin a project is what causes us to keep delaying it. I try to think, “Why do I have to do this?”. Are you striving for good grades? What will happen if the project doesn’t get completed? Figure out what motivates you and use that to your advantage.

REMOVE DISTRACTIONS What disrupts your workflow? If I’m particularly distracted, I try to identify what am I using to distract me.  Maybe it’s social media, or TV, or interruptions from my family and friends. I find a place where I can work, without distractions. Sometimes it’s my office, sometimes it’s a local library, coffee shop or community space.  Whatever you choose, it should be easily accessible and provide a good work environment where you can concentrate.

CREATE A SCHEDULE I try to tackle the job, one piece at a time. I like to divide up the work to make it more manageable and I build in lots of time for review and revision. Try creating a schedule and follow through with it. Maybe you work for 20 minutes a day, or 1 hour every second day, or half a day on the weekends. Everyone’s schedule will be different. As you go, figure out what works best for you.

KEEP TRACK OF PROGRESS I like to keep a list and I check off items as they are completed. This helps to ensure the project is on track. It also provides me with positive reinforcement to keep going. You will see the work you have already accomplished and your project come closer to completion.

REWARD YOURSELF Don’t forget to take breaks.  As you track your progress and cross items off your list indulge yourself. Take time to watch your favourite show, take a walk, or any other activity that you enjoy. Reward yourself for work well done.

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This article is written by GEM Mentor, Vanja Peric, CFA and Assistant Vice President at Bell Kearns & Associates Ltd. She’s a mentor to GEMgirl Maryam Hasam, avid traveller and loves to help others through mentorship and story telling.