Following the successful Regional Meeting of the Fondsfrauen Luxembourg in November 2022 with the Luxembourg Minister of Finance, the Spring event on 27 April 2023 was again a fruitful and energizing evening with the presence of numerous members & sponsors, new Fondsfrauen and interested members of the Luxembourg finance industry.

For the second time in a row, the event took place at Northern Trust headquarters in Leudelange.

The evening was opened by Manuela Fröhlich with rapturous applause. It is always special when Manuela finds her way from Zurich to Luxembourg and when she talks about being a co-founder of the network. As there were also many interested people and new Fondsfrauen in the audience, it was the perfect occasion to talk once again about the history, the development, and the goals. She mentioned the successful mentor/mentee program as well as the buddy program for women with less than 5 years of professional experience.


Global reach – Local touch

It is the long-term vision, to increase the visibility of the Fondsfrauen and to strengthen their community beyond the DACH borders. Luxembourg is clearly an accelerator, since the working environment in this small country is very international and multilingual. Martine Capus, the lead championista of Fondsfrauen Luxembourg, has already managed with a lot of commitment, a Whatsapp group and monthly lunches to boost the local community in Luxembourg. Her hard commitment pays out and the  Luxembourg LinkedIn group counts more than 270 members.


Everyone needs a female role model

After Manuela’s welcome speech, Jessica Schumacher from Northern Trust introduced the topic of the evening, „Ready to accelerate your career?“. With a nice example from her own family, she made it clear that everyone needs a female role model. In her role as a mother, she leads by example and wants her two sons to understand that it is normal for women to work, to have a career and to be ambitious.  You just have to trust yourself and your abilities to achieve what you dream of and connect it with your passion.

After this successful introduction, another role model joined the stage, Melitta Schubert.

If you want a direct and honest exchange with a power woman, you should talk to the Ambassador of Austria in Luxemburg. She could write not only 1 book, but several novels about her experiences as a woman in the diplomatic career that she shared very candidly with the audience, though things have much improved since her start in this career in 1989.

School until 2 p.m. – How is a mother supposed to work full-time? 

On the theme of equal payment, which is of course in place in the public service in Austria, she pointed out for example that the Austrian school-system (school finishes at 2pm) leads many women to work only part-time, which again may have dire consequences later in life. She recommended the book „Invisible Women“ by Caroline Criado-Perez, as it shows how much our world is still very much made by men for men. Quoting Madeleine Albright, „There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.“ she insisted on the importance that women should support each other and build networks.

With this keynote speech, the audience was ready for an interesting and diverse panel discussion.

„Ready to accelerate your career?“

Luxembourg Fondsfrauen Championista Martine Capus welcomed her panel participants:

  • Rachel Hamen (CFO Continental Europe & Guernsey, member of Authorized Management and Executive Committee Northern Trust Corporation).
  • Jean-Pierre Faber (Director, CSSF)
  • Jill Griffin (Head of Luxembourg Business, Threadneedle Management Luxembourg S.A.)
  • Nicole Schmidt Troje (Independent Director, Leoniq Directors Office)

Experiences and inspiring views, tips and tricks were shared on the following questions:

– What does it take to achieve a C-Level role? What skills and attitudes do CEOs need?

– How can you work towards that goal?

– How do independent directorships work and how can you become part of that circle?


A strong external and internal network is the key

From the beginning, Rachel Hamen made it clear and shared that it is not only the impact and the network outside a company that are important in order to get a C-level role, but that it is also very much about the reputation and the impact within the company, i.e. also the internal network is the key. It should also not be forgotten what a positive and decisive influence sponsors and mentors can have. She had two sponsors earlier in her career and they have played a decisive role in supporting her and pushing her to achieve her goals. Mentors can also help you determine whether or not a C-level role would be the right fit for you and can provide honest feedback about your strengths and key areas you need to improve on to be a competitive candidate. Finally, it is also a lot about your confidence level and your belief in your ability to do the job so try to be at the table every time you get an opportunity, be visible and showcase your expertise. Rachel however highlighted that there is no secret recipe and what works for one might not work for somebody else so each of us has to go on their own journey at their own pace.


Take your time!

Jill Griffin gave strong impulses and encouraged the women present to understand that despite all of the self-help guides, coaches & mentors out there, there is no easy or direct line into a C-level role. “Your career is a journey and is unique to you. It is a marathon and not a sprint which means that there will be periods of acceleration but for many of us there will be periods of slow down or even full pause in our careers. Perhaps the pause involves taking care of our children or dependents, it might also be about self-care but the important point is that you should never be afraid to press pause, because you can come off the circuit and then return on your professional journey with renewed force.” She also made clear to never underestimate the importance of your reputation and the importance of kindness: “kindness is not our weakness as women, it can be our super-power. People may forget what you said or did but they will not forget about how you made them feel. In the broadest sense, it is about leading by example and if I had to boil it down to my top 3 tips, it would be to (1) protect your reputation, (2) be kind and (3) stay authentic. “


CSSF will review more stringently the adequation of the diversity policies and their execution of supervised entities in Luxembourg

Mr. Jean-Pierre Faber from the Luxembourg supervisory authority (CSSF) made it clear that there is still a lot to do in terms of diversity among Luxembourg based companies and investment funds based on recent studies and reviews made. Many market players present themselves as the front-runners and great supporters of „diversity, equality and inclusion“, but there are still too few women on their own boards of directors. Not only have studies demonstrated again and again that boards and executive committees composed of members from different age groups, gender, geographical provenance, as educational & professional backgrounds generate a higher return on equity (ROE), but the absence of diversity in boards and executive committees exposes those entities to a reputational risk in case of non-compliance. Consequently, he calls for tough penalties and the publication of companies that only pretend to have implemented diversity in theory. The regulator will review more thoroughly the ‘fit and proper’ of the boards and executive committees in the months to come, but also will review if the remuneration policies of the supervised entities are gender neutral in practice. Additionally, he put forward the need for organizations to create a more divers pool of suitable candidates, as to increase the technical competencies early on within the education system of youngsters. Very inspiring was that he explained that diversity and equality starts at home and that men should also follow household tasks at home.

With courage and at a young age to Independent Director – that is possible

Nicole Schmidt-Troje told how, after a successful career, as Conducting Officer, she was suddenly faced with a difficult decision when her employer at the time decided to relocate the fund management company she had supported to set up, to Sweden. In her early 40s, mother of two children, starting in the position of an independent director? She took this far-reaching decision and her courage was rewarded. Her eyes sparkle when she is explaining her current tasks and responsibilities. Nicole also proudly reveals that she is not a director who signs blindly, but that she looks after her mandates very conscientiously. This, she said, includes regularly keeping up with all the latest regulations and developments on ESG, AML, tax and regulatory circulars. She told the audience that every direction you take and every decision you make is good for something and that she is also glad to have gone through difficult times, as these times shaped her for the future.


Building bridges – instead of insisting on differences

After the inspiring panel discussion, Ms. Rita Knott had the honor to be the last speaker of the evening. She closed the agenda with a presentation on the „Female Board Pool“. The valuable potential that women bring to supervisory and advisory boards is simply underutilized. This is exactly where the Female Board Pool wants to provide support and aims to increase the proportion of competent and committed women on advisory and supervisory boards in order to improve their efficiency in the long term. In line with the motto „Building bridges instead of insisting on differences“, the network of women trained in corporate governance has been targeting anyone looking for female board members since 2011 and supports anyone who envisions this career path for or is thinking about it.


Networking – proof of concept

With a lot of strong messages from strong personalities and with great career tips, the formal program of the Regional Meeting ended, and we moved on to networking with delicious sandwiches and macarons. This successful closing of the evening proved again that nothing works without a strong network and it is great to see, that so many people already benefit from it.

The Fondsfrauen Luxembourg community continues to grow and we can already look forward to the next Regional Fondsfrauen Meeting in October. Until then, it is worth looking at the numerous Fondsfrauen events taking place in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and online. If you wish to join our monthly Fondsfrauen Luxembourg lunches, feel free to join the local Fondsfrauen Luxembourg LinkedIn group.


Written by Laura Zahren

Profilbild von Laura Zahren

Laura Zahren