Naomi Denning, ASIP, MBA

1. Tell us a bit about your profession or business.

I work as an investment consultant, with Eckler Vancouver since 2018 and previously running the Asia Pacific investment business for Willis Towers Watson for over 20 years before moving to Canada.

Our business is to help institutional investors (pension funds, endowments, insurance companies) to navigate their investment decisions and structure their assets to meet their long-term goals – this involves research and analysis to decide how to allocate funds across different asset classes, selecting investment managers to implement this and monitoring and adjusting these arrangements to make sure that investment goals are being achieved.

2. Why did choose your career?

Wandering through a graduate recruitment in Islington, London way back when, I stumbled across a stand for Mercer and described my interests in maths and investments (which I knew little about at the time!) and they said “we know just the job for you… – our Asset Planning Department” – I took the application form, filled it in, got an interview and took it from there – so pretty much a lucky accident with a positive outcome to fall into something which provided an exciting and fulfilling career!

3. How did you get to where you are today? Design? Chance? Both?

It’s literally been a journey – Born in the West of England, I started my career in London but regretted never travelling so 3 years in I flew to Australia to live with my brother and work as an investment analyst to build experience as well as fund my travels for the year. En route I stopped in Hong Kong and various spots throughout Southeast Asia. This all gave me the taste to travel and live abroad. After another 2 years in London with Mercer, I learned of the opportunity to work in Hong Kong, and 2 phone interviews later I was flown out for an interview and offered the job with what is today Willis Towers Watson. Six weeks later I was living in Hong Kong and never looked back. I loved every moment of time in Asia, both personally and professionally.

I met my American husband in Hong Kong and we had two kids there. We would travel to Whistler every year to ski in the winter and play in the summer, and we all fell in love with BC. Long story short, our hearts brought us here and we moved when our daughter finished primary school so that the kids would truly adopt Canada as their home – and here we are, still loving Whistler!

4. What is your most significant achievement? What are you proud of?

Apart from raising two kids which I adore, I am most proud of building significant businesses in Asia and more recently in Canada, the ingredients of which include building an amazing team and working with interesting and loyal clients – the results show in the stability of clients and the team as well as seeing clients implement advice.

5. What are some key challenges and opportunities for working mothers?

As a working mum you continually feel torn between work and family and often feel the guilt of not giving enough time to each, especially the family.

Its not easy, but always remember its quality over quantity that counts. Your kids see you as their role model and your strength builds strength and ambition in your daughters and respect in your sons.

I have travelled extensively for work, and it was really tough when my daughter would cry as she saw me leave, but we stayed in touch and video called every day which made it easier to be away.

I actually think there’s never been a better time to be a working mum – technology enables you to stay connected and COVID has made working from home the norm, not an inconvenience, it has shifted the workplace to a results-focused environment over attendance.

6. What advice would you give a woman starting her career?

Be ambitious and be positive. Don’t plan too much, take opportunities as they arise, take chances, do your best work and good things will happen. Find good sponsors and mentors and they will guide and support you. Never stop learning.