As the director of Omni Services for eVestment, Kathi Ray believes that workplace challenges are inevitable and should be viewed as important opportunities to learn and grow.
We sat down virtually with Kathi to experience firsthand how she was able to advance her career through the rapid pace of technological change, why a well-designed message is important, and how she ensures that her voice is heard in an often male-dominated room becomes.
How would you describe your role?
In my current position, I am Head of Omni Services for eVestment, which is part of our Investment Intelligence business at Nasdaq. Omni is a product that leverages both technology and human capital to help asset managers bring their business and strategy data to market. I lead the Service Deployment team for Omni. We have over 500 institutional clients worldwide, and our dedicated team of data and customer service representatives assists our clients by ensuring their data is positioned on time and accurately.
How has technology affected your roles throughout your career? How important is technology to your role today?
When I started my career many years ago, technology was advancing and the internet was just beginning to take root. All of these shifts were dynamic and necessary for our economies and populations to advance. I started in an industry where technology was primarily used for record keeping. Today financial services can process and transmit data and the various currencies that rule the free world.
I am in a role today that uses technology to bring market data for thousands of investment strategies into one centralized platform that serves multiple uses and consumers at the same time. I can’t say enough: technology is extremely important in my role today.
How has being a woman in finance and technology affected your career?
Immediately after college, I began working in investment management, marketing mutual funds to broker-dealers. This role shaped the entire course of my career, which has now spanned two decades. In the course of my career I was very often one of the few women who met with clients and colleagues. I realized very early on how important it is to build a sincere, serious and effective presence with my colleagues. I found it useful to lead with posts so that any conscious or unconscious prejudice associated with my gender can be quickly overcome. That’s not to say that these efforts solved everything, but I knew that as a woman, in an often male-dominated environment, I needed to make sure my voice was heard in the room.
What challenges did you face during your career and how did you approach them?
I have faced many challenges in my career and continue to face them. I tried not to be put off by them, but to push myself forward. In fact, there have been several cases over the course of my career that have shaped my development.
One case in particular came very early and taught me how to deal with personality differences. I had a manager with whom I had difficulty finding common ground. It seemed impossible for us to have a positive interaction and I began to internalize our exchanges and rethink my ability to be successful. However, I quickly realized that not everyone would be your fan. I have also learned that sometimes there are issues that are beyond your control, such as: B. Problems at home that are unrelated to you. The moral of the story is to work hard to keep things in view, give your best, and expand grace.
Another example that shaped my career was when I was a reshaped manager for people and processes. I’ve worked hard to be relevant and effective as a young manager. I struggled with getting my voice into the room and making a compelling case for change. Over time, I’ve learned that a well thought out and measured message has a bigger impact than blurting out the obvious. I’ve also found that storytelling wins beliefs and champions change.
I also think the decision to expand my skills by going back to school in the middle of my career for my MBA was invaluable. In many ways it has helped me improve my career. I was able to fill some knowledge gaps in the areas of management, company structure, strategic design and a lot more. It also helped me realize that we should stay in a constant state of learning. It was a good reminder that if you don’t have the tools, get the tools and, once you get them, make good use of them.