One thing I have been noticing more and more is the number of women entering the field of asset management. In fact, many of Copperleaf’s clients are women who are taking a leading role in their organizations in planning and managing their asset investments more strategically, to minimize risk and create the highest value for their organizations.
Certainly the prevalence of women is not evident by attending an asset management conference…yet. But it occurred to me that this is a great role for women in a field where you might not expect to find many women! And I believe this is the beginning of an exciting trend and would like to highlight some of these women—and the interesting work they’re doing—to establish some role models and shine a light on this as a possible career path for young women.
In this article, we are featuring:
Anglian Water Strategic Investment Planners (left to right):
Sarah Freeman, Carly Symes, Liz Cornelius, Julie Bailey
How did you get involved in the field of asset management?
Julie Bailey: Quite by accident. I had been working for Anglian Water for a number of years in various roles and at the time of the PR04 price review was working in supply chain management. At this time, Anglian Water was looking to grow its asset management capability in light of the introduction of the UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research) Capital Maintenance Planning: A Common Framework, a methodology for forward-looking risk-based investment planning, which enabled the water industry to answer the question “why is the future different”. To facilitate this, a new team was formed, and I thought it sounded interesting, and fit really well with some of the roles in my earlier career working with data and information. Luckily, my application to join the team was successful!
Liz Cornelius: Following the graduate training programme at Anglian Water and a role in Policy and Standards, I worked for United Utilities for a few years in Regulation and wanted a new challenge which brought together my knowledge of the water industry. I took a role on the Catchment Planning team working on the new ‘Integrated Asset Planning’ approach and was then lucky enough to secure this role in Strategic Investment Planning with Anglian Water, which brings it all together, when I returned to the East of England.
Sarah Freeman: I previously worked for Anglian Water as an engineer and wanted a change that made use of my engineering and water industry experience. Asset management seemed to fit the bill, although at the time I knew little about what it entailed. I’m happy to say that it was a good move, it’s a really good fit for me as I like solving problems.
Carly Symes: Fresh out of university I began work on the front line of water recycling operations. After several years working on the ground, I had gained invaluable process knowledge and wanted to apply this technical detail at a regional level. At the same time, a vacancy arose on the Strategic Investment Planning team which offered just this opportunity. It was a good move!
What attracted you to this field?
The answer to that is simple, variety. The role of Investment Planner is varied and incorporates understanding of not only asset management, but also the regulatory framework in which that management has to take place.
"[Investment planning] brings together skills and knowledge gained from working in the water industry and with that the ability to understand the bigger picture and importance of good asset management."
It brings together skills and knowledge gained from working in the water industry and with that, the ability to understand the bigger picture and importance of good asset management. It involves collaboration with many people across other areas of the business and so learning continues which keeps the role interesting.
What excites you most about this field?
We think the variety and solving challenges is the key. It’s also interesting to see the ways in which the asset management and investment planning world is progressing to deliver better outcomes. As technology moves on, this is reflected in our models and processes, continually improving our asset management capability.
What are the most rewarding aspects of the work you do?
Working with different areas of the company to embed asset management as an integral part of our business as usual process. It is satisfying to develop and deliver better ways of doing things, like implementing C55™ to improve the investment planning process.
Where are you (and your team) making the biggest impact?
We recently worked on our business plan for the 2019 price review. As super users of C55, we supported others in the business to create high-quality investments for the plan. Following creation of these investments, we collaborated with business leads to create the best plan by optimizing multiple portfolios of investments, using both service and financial constraints, prior to approval by the AWS board.
What do you think are the biggest challenges?
Data, data, data! This is the foundation of good asset management decision making and even though there is a vast amount of data collected around the business, it is seldom of the quality or form that can be used without additional intervention.
Would you recommend asset management to other women as a career?
Definitely! No job in asset management is the same so there are many opportunities.
To learn more about other women making an impact in this emerging field, feel free to check out the rest of the articles in this series here.
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