The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

Women’s Day: Spotlight on leading Hedge Fund Administrator, Paulianne Nwoko

Dayna Clarke Friday, 8 March 2019, 12:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

In an industry that celebrates the accolades of alpha males, it is often overlooked how many successful women are working in pivotal roles in hedge funds services. But despite estimates that women manage only 3% of the $1.5 trillion (USD) invested in hedge funds, a growing number of entrepreneurial, innovative and accomplished women now work in a wide variety of roles within funds, service providers and investors. A recent survey of 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds, sponsored by PWC, shows how women are making an increasing contribution to the industry's development and success. The rationale for this survey is to document and recognise the valuable contribution of women.


One such local woman who is overseeing an extensive operation in a senior management position, for one of the world's leading hedge funds services provider is PAULIANNE NWOKO.

Paulianne didn't fall into the position by chance, she's steadily been climbing the career ladder for over ten years, and at 37 is one of the firm's youngest managing directors globally. Dayna Clarke caught up with Paulianne, to discuss her role and her views on women in business.


Paulianne, tell us about your role?

I'm managing director at Apex Funds Services, and our Malta offices are based in Sliema. Apex Funds Services (Malta) is part of the Apex Group. Apex offers a full service offering to the requirements of a Fund, from our core business which is fund administration to corporate services, and middle office support solutions. These core services are surrounded by products from information delivery to capital introductions support and delivered through a geographically diverse network of 33 offices located around the globe in 26 countries and domiciles.

The globally distributed service model has been purposefully developed for over a decade to meet the changing demands of successful managers on a local level. Consequently, Apex now manages the investments of some of the most substantial funds and institutional allocators in the world and administers around 600 billion in assets.

With over 130 staff, Apex Malta is the largest Fund Administrator in Malta. My responsibility is to ensure the smooth running of our operations in Malta, and to ensure we achieve our strategic goals.


As a woman, what challenges have you faced in this industry?

During my career to date, positively I have not faced any personal discrimination because of being a woman, however, of course, the gender imbalance is there, and I do feel I have had to work "that bit harder" to prove myself along the way.

 The hardest challenges I have faced have been taking time out to have a family, going on maternity leave twice and returning. It was during this period I realised we were losing a wealth of incredibly talented women due to not being flexible enough to accommodate working mothers. Something I initiated was the development of return to work packages for new mothers including flexibility such as the ability to work from home in certain circumstances. We take every case by its merit, as the support a new mother has is not the same for everyone, so you can really adopt one blanket approach.



What do you believe are the most important features for anyone to possess to progress to your level and successfully lead?

I try my best to lead by example, and I would not expect my colleagues to do something I would not do myself. Having worked at every level of the company, over the last decade, I have a personal insight into what every role involves. I can relate as I know the roles well.  Being accessible is integral, I have an open-door policy and my staff always know they can come to discuss with me openly. Communication is very important, being able to communicate well with all stakeholders is key to progress.

Attitude is another vital aspect, one must have a positive approach to learning and growing, and take the criticism along the way, something which isn't easy. Taking calculated risks and making decisions with the support of your team is essential for growth, success is not built alone but with ensuring you have the right team around you. I have had work mentors along the years, previous managers who have supported and believed in me. My work environment is a supportive one, and this is something we echo through the various roles here, we pride on the fact that most of our managers have been with us for a number of years and have developed to their roles because they were given the tools to succeed. The implementation of clear protocols and procedures help in ensuring everything is running smoothly, so staff know who and where to go for support.


As a working mother in such a demanding role, how do you manage the work-life balance?

It takes years to perfect- and no two families or situations are the same. In my case, it took time to work with my schedule and even a few job changes from my husband until we had got it sussed. I am a firm believer in routine. I ensure weekends are always kept free for my family- that is a rule. Unless there is an emergency, I do not reply to email during weekends! You have to set boundaries for yourself, or you could end up working 24/7 in my case, knowing when to stop and set those limits is a process. For me, there needs to be a clear line between work and family time, or I would gladly carry on with projects as I love my job!

I have two young boys, and we stick to a strict timetable, from when they go to bed, eat and the people who support me with their care. This ensures they are in a routine, and so am I. I am an early morning person so prefer to get to the office as early as 7.30am and ensure I have left by five every day. Those few hours before the kids go to bed is quality time where I have to be there for them.





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