‘My manager made me feel seen’

Ninety One’s Nazmeera Moola shares how teams can build trust and confidence to bring their A-game

We all know women are woefully under-represented in financial services and asset management, especially in more senior roles. The causes are many (but still less than the number of books written on the subject!) so let me not rehash them all.

Instead, I’ll focus on one factor I’ve spent some time thinking about how to alleviate in the teams I’ve been involved: that confidence is situational.

To some that statement will sound blatantly obvious; to others, it will sound absurd. I know because I’ve spent some time convincing people (mostly men) of that. For example, in 2018 I took on a new role as head of Africa investments at Ninety One.

My previous role, covering South African economics, was taken over by a woman who came from a village in one of the country’s poorer and more remote provinces with the most basic of amenities. At the same time, there was a man in the team who sat two seats down from her and attended one of the country’s best schools. Both smart and successful, but from completely different walks of life.

Part of our role as managers is to help colleagues bring their A-game to work by making them feel confident enough to produce their best work. That’s not particularly easy when the discussion over the desk is about golf or the best wines.

Fortunately, the team in question has established a strong camaraderie that allows for robust discussion on work output that never feels personal. This is due to the strong trust built between teammates, led by a manager who prioritises this.

Read the full comment in ESG Clarity’s March 2023 digital magazine.