“Never burn your bridges”: Q&A with Regnan's new CEO Pauline Vamos July 2017

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Former ASFA chief executive, Pauline Vamos, has stepped back into a CEO role this week, taking over the top job at Australian ESG research and engagement provider Regnan. In a Q&A with Industry Moves, she outlines her plans for the next 12 months, shares her thoughts on the evolution of ESG in an ever-changing society and offers newcomers entering this “very small” industry some invaluable advice.

What are you most looking forward to about taking on the role of CEO at Regnan?

The opportunity to grow the business and increase its Australian and International footprint.

What are your goals within this role over the next 12 months?

To increase Regnan’s visibility to Australian and international financial organisations which are increasingly hungry for, and positioned to make good use of, the sophisticated, and differentiating responsible investment strategies which are Regnan’s expertise. I’d also like to leverage its world-class research to broaden its offerings, particularly its advisory business to small to medium enterprises.

What initially drew you towards a career in the finance industry?

I have always been in the finance industry and have now had six different careers within it. It's always evolving and there are many opportunities to have different careers that provide very different perspectives and lenses, enablling unique contributions.

In your opinion, when did the superannuation industry first start taking ESG engagement seriously?

Some parts of the industry have always taken ESG seriously, as it's one of the foundations to manage long term investment. What is now starting to happen is a growing awareness that as a fiduciary, it is necessary to ensure that fund managers are taking a holistic approach to stock and investment selection and that the ultimate investment vehicle is sustainable, with the broadest range of risks being well managed.

How do you see ESG developing over the next 10 years in Australia?

ESG is not static, indeed I do not even think the name will be relevant in the future. We are in the fourth industrial revolution, experts are predicting that 40 per cent of jobs will disappear and be replaced by new ones. Our world is changing, our society is changing and how we manage this must also change. This transformation contains risks and opportunities that will impact the financial bottom line of our small, medium and large businesses.

What are the main skills you acquired during your time as CEO of ASFA that will assist you in this new leadership role?

People leadership, business acumen, ability to learn complex concepts, advocacy and public policy development.

In your opinion, what makes for an effective board member?

Understanding the role and purpose of the business, filling in the gaps of skills and experience, bringing diversity of thought, and experience, as well as being able to work in a team which ultimately a board is meant to be. It is not about bomb throwing, it is not about one upmanship, it is not about being a seat warmer.

Who has had the greatest influence on your life/career so far?

The people across the various organisations that I have worked that have always given me frank and robust feedback.

What advice would you offer to an industry newcomer?

Be flexible, work out your noble purpose, always know you will never know everything and never burn your bridges – the industry is very small!

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I have a routine and as much as possible I try and stick to it and always put my health as the number one priority. Being healthy for me means, sensible and balanced eating, regular exercise, catching up with friends and family, and good red wine (in moderation).

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