"BY POSITIVELY IMPACTING OTHERS, WE ARE LEADERS"
An interview given to Portuguese newspaper Público’s Pontos de Vista magazine, takes us to meet Manuela Robinson, Joint Country Manager of Blacktower Financial Management (International) Ltd, in the Algarve - Portugal. A woman in the financial industry, which is still very much male dominated, but she feels is changing. Meet our interviewee, a Leader who is determined and does not like to be a mere spectator, but likes to lead by example.
What is Blacktower Financial Management (International), Ltd and how has it been operating in the market?
Blacktower was founded in 1986 by John Westwood and offers a financial advisory service. We have celebrated more than 30 years of success that reflects our ability to respond to the demands of the sector. This is where Blacktower outshines as it takes into account the complexity of modern times, the financial uncertainty, the heaving economic cycles, the ever changing needs of investors' interests and the constant changes in both national and international laws. The whole team, both in Europe and across the Atlantic, is aware of the challenges, but when you are amongst dedicated people, for whom the ultimate objective is to offer quality service that excels in investor protection, everything is easier. At Blacktower, that effort is collective, hence the flexibility of this global brand is focused on the clients’ needs, obtaining good results and subsequently gaining the clients’ confidence and trust.
How would you analyse your career so far and how did you come across Blacktower?
After completing my studies in Business Economics, in South Africa, I started my career in Portugal, spending the last 30 years in the financial sector. I worked at several multinational corporations over the years, such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, eventually joining Blacktower in February 2013. I have been Country Manager since 2015 and I feel fulfilled with the direction my career has taken.
As a manager of people and a distinguished leader, what characteristics do you see as crucial for these roles?
A leader is always a manager, but a manager is not always a leader. Just as a leader is an entrepreneur, but not all entrepreneurs are leaders. I believe that a leader is a social entrepreneur who shares their merit and knowledge, who corrects herself, who is able to promote positive interpersonal relationships and has an ethical commitment. This means knowing how to be empathetic, knowing how to motivate, being inspirational and being aware of one’s impact on others.
Who is Manuela Robinson as a leader and a woman?
I am determined, direct and I challenge myself constantly. I am a mother and there I try to be the best leader I possibly can. I am also a Board member of several Associations and always learn with each and every project in which I am involved with. I would like to highlight one - the Rotary - where I am Assistant District Governor for 2020/21, and was President for an International Club in 2017/18. This is one of the places where I express my empathetic and human side, by listening, feeling, caring and helping others. As Daniel Goleman says: “not being a mere spectator”. We must be and set an example.
Are there limitations in being a woman in the financial sector?
The industry is basically male - it's no secret and I have spoken about this on several occasions. However, we have seen changes towards greater female inclusion. Companies have been running mentoring and coaching programs for young women taking their first steps. This effort is essential, but women have to help women. We cannot be conformist or complacent with the organizational culture that surrounds us.
Is there a difference between female and male leadership? Or is a positive leadership genderless?
If there is a difference, it is probably subjective. The idea of a positive leadership is, neutral and boils down to transforming leadership as a position, which can be affected by phenomena such as the “glass ceiling”, which makes it difficult for women to access high ranks, in "leadership as mindset". Anyone can be a leader if they have the right mindset. I truly believe that, by positively impacting others, we are leaders.
What can we expect from you and from Blacktower?
We will continue to provide our clients and prospects a service of excellence and guarantee a financial future with maximum tranquillity. We will carry on being very attentive and aware of any challenges that may arise and always looking out for the client’s best interest. Just recently we saw the fastest correction in the US stock market since the post-war period, fear and panic took the markets by storm. Today, we see promising signs of economic recovery: central banks with monetary policies and governments with fiscal policies attempting to stabilize markets. However, we do not have a crystal ball and it is impossible to predict how the markets will react in the future. I am confident that the global economy will resist negative influences and appreciate in the long term. As a result, investors, especially those with diversified portfolios will prosper. The markets are resilient and, generally, their recovery brings significant gains. Financial markets look to the future and the economy informs us of what happened in the past. After all, “it’s about time in the market – not timing the market.”