It’s a common interview question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” But as the pandemic has proven, plans can take unexpected turns. Even without a global health crisis to navigate, our careers can go in directions that we didn’t anticipate – often for the better. We talked with Rachel Betton, senior vice president and portfolio manager at PIMCO, about how her non-linear career path brought her here, and why she thinks women should take chances in industries they may not always see themselves in.
Q) How did you get started in the financial services industry?
I never planned to be in finance – my plan was to become a lawyer. I grew up in Jamaica and I was a liberal arts major, studying government, history, economics and philosophy. When banks started recruiting on campus, it sparked my interest in finance as a potential career path and led to my first job in investment banking.
I was very lucky to have a woman as my first boss. Representation is so important in the industry, and being exposed to an extremely talented female leader early on was a great influence. I’m still close with her today and have consulted with her for major moves across my career.
Q) What would you say are the skills someone needs to work in your field?
I’ve heard many young women say they could never work in finance because they don’t think they are good at math. While math is definitely a part of most jobs in finance, there are so many other skill sets that are equally important. For instance, to be a portfolio manager, you need to be analytical, capable of multi-tasking and a clear communicator.
On any given day, I have to be able to follow the market, answer a client call, and jump between trading and credit analysis while sifting through large amounts of data quickly. I also talk to dealers, read credit reports and, most importantly, use all of this information to try to find attractive opportunities for our clients.
Every job I have had requires a variety of skills – one strong skill in isolation will not make you good at a job. So even if you don’t think you have all of the skills listed for a role, apply anyway.
Q) What made you want to work for PIMCO?
PIMCO has a reputation for being full of smart people. And if you want to learn and be exposed to thought leaders, this is a great place to work. Given we are a relatively small firm, we are particularly committed to the individual growth and development of our people.
For instance, this summer I was a mentor for an intern through our Girls Who Invest program, which brings in college-aged women looking to learn about investments and finance. Even though PIMCO people are notoriously busy, from my experience, they also make time to share what they know to foster the success of the next generation.
Q) How have you been able to build your community at PIMCO?
PIMCO’s New York trade floor has more women than any of the other trade floors I’ve worked on. Our trade floor has a great culture – everyone is very collegial and we often do social activities together.
Those are built-in opportunities to build relationships with others at PIMCO.
The firm holds a global month of volunteering which is also a great opportunity to meet others and build your network. You get to work in smaller groups and it’s nice to spend time with people in different departments that you don’t typically see on your day-to-day while also giving back to the community. We also have strong inclusion and diversity groups; joining them is another great way to gain leadership experience and meet new colleagues.
Q) What is some career advice you would pass on?
First of all: Apply for the job. That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Sometimes, your next best career move is just about getting your foot in the door.
Second: Career paths aren’t linear. It’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen in your career, so be willing to take risks.
Finally, you have to make a point of maintaining your work-life balance. And I mean this not just in terms of balancing long-term career goals and family life, but in your day-to-day work. I’ve found that some of my best ideas happen when I’m away from the computer.
Watch to learn more about these Career Growth Stories at PIMCO.
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This material contains the opinions of the speaker and may not necessarily be those of PIMCO. The experiences discussed may not be representative of the experiences of all PIMCO employees. This material has been provided for informational purposes only.