Katrina Dudley lives in New York City. She is a portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton and also a research analyst for the industrial sector. Our own Anke Dembowski talks to Katrina Dudley about her career and how she organizes her family life and work with a husband and four children.
Ms. Dudley, at what age did you get the idea of working in the financial sector? And what was the trigger for that?
When I was in ninth grade, my father asked me if I wanted to become a musician or pursue another professional career. After going through the numbers, I thought that my chances of a real career as a violinist were slim, so I decided to go for the alternative. Looking back, I probably have a good instinct for weighing the balance between opportunities and risks. That's probably what led me to go to the Franklin Mutual Series.
What exactly do you do at Franklin Templeton?
I wear two hats there: One is a portfolio manager, the other a research analyst. As a portfolio manager, I oversee the Franklin Mutual European Fund, and as a research analyst I cover the industrial sector with companies like Siemens, Caterpillar and General Electric. As a research analyst, I select stocks in the industrial sector for all of Franklin Templeton's Mutual Series funds.
You are a woman. Has this ever been an issue in your career in finance?
No, never. When I joined Franklin Mutual Series in 2002, I was five months pregnant with my first child. So, the company invested in me when it was clear that I needed to take some time off relatively quickly and that I was facing a major life change. I now have four children, all of whom I have had during my time here. I think that says a lot about Franklin Mutual Series' long-term view of its employees.
How long were you home for each child before you went back to work?
My children are now 15, 12, 10 and 7 years old, and after each birth I stayed home for six weeks. That was my wish; I think I could have taken up to 20 weeks paid leave.
Why did you no longer stay at home with your babies?
I respect the decision of mothers who stay at home longer. But staying home was not the right thing for me. I love my job. I love the CEO interviews, the interactions. Every day that I go to work is different. I feel like this is good for me and my kids.
How do you do it in practice, with breastfeeding, caring for a baby and the job?
Well, we have a mommy's room here at Franklin Mutual Series where we can pump. What also helps is that we are very well supported here. Flexibility is very important, especially for mothers. For example, I have control over my travel schedule to the extent that is possible in my job. This helps me to coordinate my schedule with that of my husband. Here at Franklin we have a very cooperative environment, which means that I have always been supported by my colleagues.
You are a mentor for other women in the financial community. What are the most common issues your mentees want to discuss with you?
I have actively encouraged several women to enter asset management. I have accompanied many of them informally. For example, I went through their CVs and discussed interview techniques for job interviews with them. What I noticed is that women often ask me whether they should apply for a new job outside their current environment. They are sometimes not sure if they can do the job well, even though they are very well trained and experienced. Men would never say that their skills are a little rusty, but women want to make sure that they are perfect in every area. I encourage them then!
What about other things? For example, sexual harassment, glass ceilings that may still be there, and salary differences between female and male colleagues?
These are also issues I talk about with my female colleagues. Although I can say that I have never experienced sexual harassment.
What do you recommend to young women who want a career in the financial industry? What are the do's and don'ts of career planning?
I do not advise women on "do's" and "don'ts". I think women get enough advice. I'd rather say what worked for me.
And what worked for you?
A lot! For example, I have help around the house. I have a wife who helps me with the housework and with the kids. I also allow myself to have things not all perfect. In the morning
You have four children. Then you really must be an expert in reconciling work and family life. How do you organise this in practice?
I like working with lists. Even though I remind myself that not everything has to be perfect, sometimes reality overwhelms you. In such cases I take my time to organize things. I take a piece of paper and divide it into four parts. There I write down what I have to do in each aspect of my life - for the family, for work, for society and for me personally. Having this on one page allows me to prioritise what needs to be done immediately and what can wait.
If you want to have both a family and a career in the financial industry What do you think is important when choosing an employer?
It's always good to check to see if there are any women in management positions in the organisation concerned. The top of a company gives good insight. Is there diversity here? At Franklin, Jenny Johnson is the president of the company. She also has five children and successfully juggles career and family. I have a female support network consisting of women in the industry, younger women where I mentor, and other working mothers. I believe that it is feasible to have both a good job and a family. It may not always be easy, but women should just keep going and not lose confidence in themselves.
A few years ago, together with a few other female investors in the industrial sector, you started a group called "Iron Skirts". What is the goal of this group?
The "Iron Skirts" are a small group of women with many years of experience in listed and unlisted companies. We have spent a large part of our career working with companies in the industrial and building materials sector. The group was originally formed to provide support and networking opportunities for its members. The "Iron Skirts" believe that women and diversity offer enormous benefits to companies. The proportion of women in management positions and on boards is particularly low in the industry and building materials sector, and we want to help change this.
ESG is an issue that is currently receiving a lot of attention in our industry. The issue of diversity can be combined with the G-factor. Is diversity - including gender diversity - a factor you consider when selecting companies for your portfolio when you invest in companies?
A company is also its culture. We are particularly focused on the G (as in "governance"). Therefore, we look at how much a company pays its managers, whether there is diversity on the board, whether the boards are too large, and other factors that help to understand the governance structure of a company. If there are hardly any women at the upper levels, we see that. However, we do not go by tick box in our investments, but look at the whole mosaic of information. We are also actively engaged. When I see that there are hardly any women on the board, I mention this in meetings with the company. I think that is more successful than simply not investing in the company. In general, I have the impression that we are trying to get more women into management positions. There is now a better understanding that this is something that needs to be addressed. Most of us also have children. After all, we want our daughters to have the same opportunities as our sons. I am therefore confident that in the future we will make progress in increasing diversity at all companies.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
For one thing, we should allow ourselves not to be perfect. Secondly, I say to all women that they need to take care of themselves, especially if you have older parents and/or children they care for. I try to get enough sleep, i.e. at least six or seven hours. I have a demanding job, so I don't want to show up exhausted every day. Also make sure that you take time for yourself. In this personal time you should do what you like: read a tabloid, do sports - that's what I do, for example. Whatever you choose, it must be something where you take time for yourself. We all need this "reset". Don't feel guilty if you do it! It makes you a better mother, a better employee and a better person!
Thank you very much for this interesting interview!