In this insightful interview, Nicole Wiley from 100 Women in Finance sits down with Antje Panariello of LGT Capital Partners to explore her journey in finance. From a small village in Austria to a key role in a Zurich financial firm, Antje’s story is a fascinating tale of determination, adaptability, and passion for sustainability. Let’s dive into the conversation.
Antje, thank you for joining us today. To start, could you tell us more about your current role at LGT Capital Partners and the path that led you here?
It’s a pleasure to be here. I work as a fixed-income product specialist at LGT Capital Partners based in Pfaeffikon near Zurich. My role serves as a bridge between our clients, the sales team and the portfolio management team. I ensure our products align with current market trends, particularly in sustainability, which I am passionate about.
My journey to this role began in a small village in Austria, far removed from academia or finance. However, I had the ambition to do something different from a young age. Despite the lack of financial support, I worked to finance my studies, captivated by the allure of financial markets. Pursuing an Erasmus program allowed me to study in London and kick-start my career there.
Life then took me to the Middle East, where I spent two years working for a start-up.. The experience in a predominantly male industry in a Muslim country was enriching and one that I would not want to miss.
I then moved on to the United Nations in Rome working for IFAD, a fund aiding small farmers in emerging markets. This role allowed me to combine my passion for finance with a meaningful cause. After five years I relocated to Zurich, became a mother of two, and faced the challenge of returning to work post-maternity. Fortunately, LGT Capital Partners believed in my capabilities and offered me an opportunity. Over the last four years, I’ve progressed well and also joined 100 Women in Finance.
Your journey is truly inspiring, Antje. It appears you’ve created your own executive development program, adding diverse experiences to become a well-rounded leader. You’ve worked across different markets and catered to varying client needs. Is that correct?
Indeed, my diverse experiences have taught me the importance of adapting to different needs across various markets and audiences.
That’s remarkable. As a former product specialist at Morgan Stanley, I understand the need to comprehend investments fundamentally while tailoring messaging to individual client needs. Your life experiences seem to have equipped you well for this role. Now, as part of 100 Women in Finance and working with next-gen professionals, what drew you to this?
My professional path spans over two decades, and during this time I’ve faced many challenges and had countless questions that I would have liked to discuss with like-minded peers. However, I often needed to to find solutions and answers on my own. I believe there are many women in this sector who have made similar experiences and could benefit from sharing their journey with others.
Hence, when I was introduced to 100 Women in Finance, a platform sponsored by my employer LGT Capital Partners, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it.
100 Women in Finance provides a platform for women to discuss various career-related issues. I remember a particular encounter where a woman asked about balancing motherhood and a career. She reached out to me privately, asking for advice on how I managed it. Such moments open your eyes to the fact that you are not alone with your questions and that you can benefit from the experiences of others – they reinforce the fact that this platform is beneficial to everyone as it addresses different issues.
Additionally, the focus on sustainability, also motivated me to volunteer and actively participate in the community. I’ve always been interested in environmental and social issues, which is evident from my work history at the UN and my educational background. I recently joined the ESG Peer Advisory Group and participated in the inaugural meeting in London. It’s truly inspiring when 20 women come together to discuss their concerns openly. The platform provides an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing and engagement. It’s a supportive network that helps you keep going even when times get tough.
You’ve touched on several reasons why people get involved in initiatives like this. One is to connect with individuals who share the same professional interests, like your passion for sustainability. Peer advisory groups offer valuable insights into best practices and challenges, fostering an open dialogue. Also, having a network of people who have gone through similar experiences can be incredibly beneficial, especially for mothers trying to balance their careers and personal lives. As you move up the ladder, there are increasing demands on your time. Having a supportive group can prevent people from leaving finance permanently or finding it hard to reenter. Sharing information proactively can help individuals plan their careers better and know what to look out for. Would you agree with this?
Absolutely. However, I also believe in the importance of being open to dialogue and learning from mistakes. If you look back at my journey, I started from scratch and learned everything along the way. Having somebody give you advice is invaluable, but it’s also important to have a goal. You need a supportive network to guide and advise you.
Participating in diverse groups can introduce new ideas and perspectives that you may not encounter in your everyday work environment. This can lead to “wake up” moments and potentially alter your thinking.
I completely agree. While professional networks and resource groups are beneficial, they can sometimes lead to groupthink. Hearing different perspectives can enrich your tool kit. So if you could go back in time to the start of your career, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself?
Reflecting on my career path, I’ve come to realize the importance of having a clear goal and a supportive network. When you know what you want to achieve, every step forward, no matter how small, contributes toward that goal. It’s like piecing together a puzzle; each experience adds more color and detail to the bigger picture.
One of the things I’ve found most rewarding about participating in groups such as 100 Women in Finance is the diversity of thought. Interacting with women from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives has been truly enlightening. It’s fascinating how these interactions can trigger fresh ideas, challenge your existing beliefs and broaden your thinking.
Your views resonate with me, Antje. Hearing different perspectives enriches our approach to problem-solving and decision-making. What other advice would you give yourself?
Reflecting on my career, the biggest challenge I faced was returning to work after having children. When I was single and child-free, I had the freedom to make decisions independently. However, when I became a mother, it was almost impossible for me to reenter the industry.
If I could advise my younger self, I’d say, if you’re passionate about your career and simultaneously want a family, don’t leave your job to start a family. Instead, stay in your job, start your family, and find a way to balance both. That was the biggest issue I faced in my career and, unfortunately, it’s related to motherhood.
Yes, Antje, I’ve heard this repeatedly from women in our industry, and I’ve experienced it myself. When you take temporary leave for reasons such as illness, an accident, or caring for a parent, it’s perceived differently than maternity leave, which is also temporary. There’s a discrepancy in how society views these types of leave. For instance, I took leave four years ago because of an accident, and my absence was easily accommodated. However, when I took a similar amount of leave for maternity, the story was different.
I agree. It seems there’s less of an issue if you’re already established within a company and have proven your worth. Changing jobs during this period can be disruptive. That’s the advice I’d give myself, given the challenges I’ve faced recently.