It’s not every day that you get to be part of an exclusive market opening at the iconic London Stock Exchange (LSE), writes Eleanor Mahmoud.
But for Sanlam’s Justine Colley (pictured above), it was part and parcel of the official launch of the Jewish Women’s Business Network (JWBN), something she is heavily involved with. Set up in early 2018, in the space of a year the founders have created an international community for business women, designed to connect and educate them both personally and professionally.
I catch up with portfolio manager Colley after the event, when she tells me that the biggest success of the event was the many relationships that were formed.
(pictured above: Justine Colley, left, Diane Côté, chief risk officer and chair of Women Inspired Network, LSE, right)
‘The goal was to create a network of incredible Jewish businesswomen that unite, help and mentor each other, and that is exactly what is transpiring,’ she says.
‘We have seen so many new relationships being formed, new business opportunities being developed and the willingness, confidence and passion these woman have in connecting with people they might have never met before.’
With support from the LSE Group, which hosted the launch, Colley and her team expertly organised a number of breakout sessions, keynote speakers and panel discussions for more than 250 attendees. There was plenty of powerful representation, with senior investment directors and members of parliament all involved.
‘Following LSE Group’s launch of JWBN, we are linking up so many different people,’ explains Justine Zwerling, head of primary markets in Israel at LSE Group and founder of JWBM.
‘We had people requesting mentors and people volunteering to mentor others. It was all very organic and an amazing result.’
Colley echoes this sentiment: ‘I see mentoring as crucial in career development. I have learnt so much from listening, interacting and bouncing ideas off people. Learning how people got to where they are, the choices, sacrifices and decisions they made is a massive learning curve.’
The day is one of the LSE’s flagship events for 2019 and clearly has incredible growth potential. Inspired by the power of networking, it has created both a professional forum and place to address important issues to women in the workplace.
‘There are so many more opportunities when you come together,’ Zwerling says. ‘The human interaction is so important – I don’t think there is a way to replace that. ‘
Empowering the next generation resonates with us all, especially here in the investment industry. Being a firm advocate of mentoring and its endless benefits, I ask Colley what advice she would give to other women in business.
‘Never be afraid to initiate a conversation. The worst someone could say is no, but you’ll never know until you try.’
Congratulations on this huge success, Justine. And happy International Women’s Day!