Sophia has had a long relationship with Aldrich & Co – even for our standards! Twenty-four years ago, Emily Aldrich found Sophia her first job in a global investment institution. She stayed there for nine years, which culminated in her moving to the firm’s Paris-based offices. After a further three years there, Sophia decided to take a break from her career and raise her children.
Recently, Sophia re-entered the job market. We wanted to know what it was like to be a “woman returner” in finance, and how she felt about working in London!
When did you decide to return to work?
This break ended up being fifteen years when my youngest child started at senior school last September.
Were you concerned about returning after a long gap?
Yes, there were doubts in my mind about whether anyone would hire me, and what job I would ideally like to find. Not only that. I also worried about how I would fit a job around the continuing demands of three children, not to mention a husband and two dogs.
How did you get your foot in the door as a woman returner?
I remembered the professional, supportive and kind atmosphere at Aldrich when they placed me for my first job outside of university. I wondered if Emily would remember me, given that we’d lost touch many years before, in the days when we didn’t have email addresses and mobile phones!
I needn’t have worried, as Emily greeted me with great enthusiasm and excitement. She reassured me that I would be able to fit right back in and that the skills I had built up over the previous twenty-four years, not just in my professional career but also during the years I had been tending to my children, would be invaluable.
Emily invited me to reacclimatise to an office environment by spending a few days with Aldrich. That helped me to see what it was like commuting to London and feeling like my own person again, only with a different purpose. It was a fantastic introduction back to the professional working world.
What is your role, and what are you expected to do?
As an operations manager in an investment institution, my role is quite varied. The main focus is on the operations of our fund platform. This covers liaison with the Management Company, Administrator and Investment Manager to ensure the smooth and compliant running of the fund.
My work includes budgeting, country registrations, data and document dissemination, compliance, and occasional client contact. I also cover general compliance operations for the office and anything else operationally client-related!
How do you juggle the work-life balance, especially during the lockdown?
Working from home through lockdown made everything so much more challenging, but I have three set workdays during which my children expect me to be at my desk and the priority is my work. At least they are at an age where they understand this and are able to respect it, on the whole!
I do have my work email and messaging system on my phone so that on days when I’m not working if I can see an urgent issue coming in, I can deal with it. Occasionally we will work on something that requires hours of input on a non-work day, and I need to be flexible with this and swap out time from another workday. I am lucky to have two very flexible bosses who allow if not encourage us to think flexibly with our time.
What do you enjoy about your job as an operations manager?
Everything about it ticks the boxes on my wish-list: part-time, drawing on direct experience whilst offering opportunities to learn and develop, good location, good pay, and very importantly, a lovely team to work with!
I enjoy using my experience to find answers to questions as well as researching and learning new things in order to improve results. I also like tackling the new and unknown issues that arise and working out how to research and deal with them.
What do you find most challenging?
Prioritising tasks can sometimes be challenging, I think given that I work a three-day-week (Tues-Thurs), often Thursday afternoon is the busiest as I’m trying to get things finished before the weekend.
Also, having my email account on my phone means that I see emails coming in on days that I’m not working, and it’s very tempting to respond there and then!
What do you enjoy about working in London?
Definitely the diversity of people, shops and services.
How can readers get their foot in the door for similar jobs?
Speak to Emily Aldrich, work hard, and network as much as possible!
We are always delighted to hear from our previous candidates and how they are getting on. Are you a past candidate that we have placed? Keep in touch with the subject header “Aldrich & Co Alumnus” and tell us about you – we’d love to feature your success on our page!