Michelle Laux discusses the CFA exam, the importance of a can-do attitude and managing change in her career.Download Podcast
Michelle Laux, director of examination development at CFA, planned on becoming a bank manager before she re-routed her career after finishing university. Entering a world of finance, working towards getting her CFA designation meant that Michelle would be on the same footing as those she worked with. The CFA program gives a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.
"You know it's going to be difficult. But, if you can make the commitment to it, people come out with a wonderful understanding of the investment profession and the designation as well".
Coming from a family where her siblings had had the same job for their entire career, Michelle Laux had a similar expectation when she obtained her degree in business marketing. However, from the moment she entered the world of work, her career was steering towards the world of finance and investment.
Embracing the change that life presented to Laux, she quickly adapted. With the help of her husband and mother, she found the right balance between becoming a new mother and studying for the three CFA designation exams. It was through failing twice that she gained a deep understanding of the profession she was working toward, a greater sense of resilience and an empathy for others who would study the exam she would subsequently develop.
Michelle, who is now the director of examination development at CFA, is very encouraging to women, as well as men, to pursue the opportunity to obtain their designation and reach the gold standard of competence, ethics and qualification in the industry.
"Be open to the change and grabbing those opportunities as they come".
Many of us know that in today's world, working in the same industry that you intended when you were a graduate fresh out of college is becoming increasingly rare. Michelle admits that she was terrified of the change that she was presented with but that's not to say it stood in her way.As the saying goes, Michelle felt the fear and did it anyway.
"The CFA is an equalizer for anyone; male, female. If you pass this it puts you on equal footing. The designation is the best way to show to any potential employer or regulator that you've done this challenge".
In response to the statistic that only 18% of charterholders in the CFA are women, Michelle points out the importance of the designation in equalising the opportunity for both men and women in this arena. Often while inequality between men and women in the workplace is publicised (e.g. through the gender pay gap etc), there is a dearth of tangible suggestions offered to break the imbalance. The CFA program truly enables men and women to operate on the same playing field.
"In our industry you can often get very self-focused. So it's unique if you can get a person who brings a couple of other skills into this too".
Irrespective of the industry, from data analysis to customer experience, there is great benefit indeveloping your soft skills. Michelle has worked hard on this due to the many different roles she has had over time. While building technical acumen is vital to success in any career, having strong communication ability, being able to work as part of a team and having the confidence to stand up for the work you do is indispensable. The combination of the two can truly enable you to contribute significantly to any team.
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Susan HayesCulleton passed two out of the three CFA exams on the first count, but failed on the third before repeating successfully to gain her charterholder in 2014. She shares the insights she gleaned from this experience and how they propelled her to betterment in many ways in the years ahead.
Siobhan Finn, Project Director at Cork Innovates, offers a very open and honest interview about fear and how wanting inspire those nearest and dearest to you can be the very antidote to any debilitating feeling.
If you would like to find out more about the CFA programme, designation and field of study, check out this global award today.