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Perspectives of a Professional with Burgundy Asset Management: An Interview with Robyn Ross

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

By: Robyn Ross and Suhaana Sidhu

Robyn Ross grew up in Zimbabwe and pursued an education in Tourism and Marketing in South Africa, intending to operate her own Safari one day. She was introduced to North America through a job with Disney as a cultural representative, later entering the financial services industry. Robyn has travelled and worked across the world from Europe to Bermuda until finally settling in Canada.

Suhaana Sidhu: Can you tell us a little bit about your career growth at Burgundy?

Robyn Ross: Burgundy happened to be looking for an Executive Assistant to their CIO, so I did my research and went in for some interviews. By the following week, I was working for Burgundy.

I’ll never forget the CIO of Burgundy’s main criteria for hiring. He said he needed someone willing to work with his entire investment team and help out anyone that needs it. And that is exactly what I did. I put my hand up for anyone and any job that needed to be done. I initially supported the CIO & Burgundy’s Canadian Equity team. My role later expanded to supporting the Asian Equities Team, Burgundy’s Emerging market team, and Burgundy’s Director of Research. I was most heavily involved in all the trip planning for these teams and supporting Burgundy’s Director of research in setting up interviews. It was the best training ground and gave me a quick and thorough understanding of Burgundy’s bottom-up, boots on the ground approach to investing.

As our recruiting process became more formal, I began running Burgundy’s Investment Department Intern Program, as well as the training and development for Burgundy’s full-time analysts. I work closely with Burgundy’s Director of Research in building a strong talent pipeline that feeds into our full-time recruitment.

SS: If you could go back and do anything differently during your journey as a business professional would you?

RR: No, I would not do anything differently. I am so thankful for every opportunity and direction life has taken me. There is a great quote that says, “sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself”. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about a lot of the opportunities I volunteered for, rather I jumped at them and learned the skills along the way.

SS: How is Burgundy empowering women in the workplace?

RR: By providing an equal platform for both men and women to succeed. This is seen from the application and interview process through to promotion.

Women of Burgundy was founded in 2014 for our female clients and colleagues. Its mission to build a community that inspires women to make investing a priority. Members of the community come together at keynote speaker events, investment seminars, and book clubs, all designed to foster curiosity and confidence in investing.

Burgundy will be launching Women in Investing Club at Queen’s in October. We will build a community for women on campus to learn about quality value investing. We will do this through a book club, case studies and guest speakers throughout the school year. We are excited to see where this will go and although the initiative is being launched at Queen’s, we hope to expand to other schools in the future.

Burgundy was fortunate to be part of a study that looked into why women are self-selecting out of finance, one of the many findings was that girls in their last year of high school are choosing not to work in finance. So, we are also working with young women at high schools to make them more aware of the opportunities within Asset Management.

SS: What do you think are some barriers for women entering finance?

RR: Being seen, heard, and accepted for the unique strengths women can bring to the job. Women interview differently than men, we approach work differently, and we bring different strengths to the job. It can be limiting when women are compared directly to what men bring to a job.

SS: What advice do you have for women as they choose a career path?

RR: Be open to opportunity. Be less fixed on what the job is and more on whether the company will work to develop you and provide you with opportunities that you may not even be aware of. Put your hand up and believe in yourself. We hold ourselves back from so much and this comes across in applications and interviews. Apply to jobs wholeheartedly and believe that you matter. Shut out the noise of peers, swim in your own lane and be ok with bumps in the road; because it is in those bumps that you truly find yourself. I had no idea what I wanted to do at nineteen, but I knew that I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard and kept a positive attitude. If you have that no one can stop you.

*Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity

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