Nicole Wagner is the Head of Business Design at Schroders Investment Management.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am responsible for the development of our target state operating models which provide a clear, “big picture” description of what the organisation does or should do, across both business and technology domains, in order to fulfil its strategic vision. In my view a well defined and articulated operating model is a prerequisite for effective, transformational change in an organisation and considers processes, organisation design, data and technology, location, sourcing and culture.
I have worked in asset management IT and change for 20 years but was previously a research chemist. I enjoy travel and the arts, have three young children and do my job in 3.5 days, so I’m probably pretty good at spinning plates too!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I never formally sat down and planned my career but I have always been proactive about seeking out new challenges and saying yes to new opportunities. I have a curious, analytical mind so it felt natural to move into research and from there technology. The surprising, unplanned bit was ending up in Finance, but there are plenty of complex problems to solve here so it has kept me interested.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
Working in change means that I face different challenges all the time, which is generally what makes it interesting. One of the things I find the hardest is starting work in a new business, function or project that I have never worked in before and all the new jargon you hear, which at first can sound like a whole new, unintelligible language. The way I have found to deal with this is by researching (Google is my friend) and immersing myself in the new world, talking to people, watching people, asking lots of questions and drawing lots of diagrams until I feel confident and on the front foot. That is when I am able to deliver at my best.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Speaking from personal experience, which is echoed by a large number of the working women I know, we still feel that we have to work harder to prove to ourselves and others that we deserve our position in the workplace. Things have improved dramatically over the last 20 years but there is still some way to go and I would say that a lot of that work needs to be to develop the mind-set of women and convince them that it is less about whether they deserve to be here and more about whether they choose to be here.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I think that mentoring is a very positive thing for both the mentor and the mentee and I will be signing up to Schroders new mentoring programme. I have never been formally involved in a programme like this but I would definitely say that I have been fortunate enough to have had inspiring mentors in the past and would like to think there are some people who may in turn say the same about me.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
That is a difficult question to answer because I value all my achievements in different ways but I am proud and excited to have been given the opportunity to head up Schroders first ever Business Architecture practice and that my part time hours were not seen as a blocker to my progression.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is to build out my new Architecture practice and to influence and affect the business design so that we can achieve Schroders vision for continued growth and innovation. I am currently working both at the enterprise level to identify new areas for change and supporting inflight change programmes to implement strategic designs for Client Lifecycle management, client reporting, finance operations and new regulations to name just a few!