When Laura O’Connor joined her current company, she thought it would be a good experience for a few years. After all, the average worker stays with their employer for only four, according to a 2020 news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fast forward to eight years later, O’Connor is the Head of Financial Planning and Analysis and Hedge Fund and Ventures Finance at Point72— a company she says has exceeded her expectations in many ways, but especially in the career advancement it offers.
“The Firm is fast-paced and dynamic. We are continually pushing forward and growing in very strategic ways,” she told Fairygodboss. “This opens up opportunities to grow even if you stay within the same function.”
O’Connor has taken up many of the opportunities offered to her at Point72 and has also found a new passion in uplifting her team members and enabling them to grow — something that’s easy when she is “continually pleasantly surprised at the quality of talent” that’s hired.
Recently, O’Connor gave us a closer look at the career path that led her to heading up a team at this exciting Firm—and why she doesn’t feel the need to job hop to keep growing. She also provided insights into her day-to-day life (including her to-do list methods), and the leadership qualities and career advice that inspire her today.
How long have you been with Point72? What about it made you first want to join?
I have just hit my eight-year mark at Point72, and I have been in my current role for about two years. I originally wanted to join Point72 because I wanted to get back to the hedge fund side of the business. I heard that Point72 (SAC Capital at the time) had a reputation for having smart and motivated employees, and I thought that it could provide the growth that I was looking for at that point in my career. My original expectation was that I would be here for around two years or so…well, now it’s eight years later!
Tell me about the roles that you’ve held at your company, as well as your current one. What about this role most excites you?
When I first joined Point72, I managed the Investor Services team within the Finance function. This team handled the month-end accounting of the net asset value, investor capital activity and transactions, and the fund’s asset allocations. Then, I moved on to manage the Financial Planning & Analysis function, which includes traditional budgeting and planning, as well as analytics, like managing the Firm’s capital forecasting model. I now manage a combination of the FP&A group as well as the Hedge Fund and Ventures accounting teams.
I have a unique vantage point within the Firm, as I can see and understand many parts of the business. This leads me to really get excited about developing and training my staff, as well as others outside the Finance function. I am truly invested in my team members growth and development and I find it personally rewarding to watch them grow and take on new challenges.
What’s something you do especially well at work?
Building relationships and connecting the dots in a complex organization are two of my greatest strengths. In order to connect the dots, you have to develop strong relationships.
What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do every morning is write or type my to-do list for the day. If it’s a Monday, I also do a high-level list for the week. I want to keep myself and my teams on track! I leave the end of the day for check-ins with my team, especially now during COVID. It’s important to check in either by phone or chat to see how everyone is doing.
A lot of people believe that developing your career means changing companies, and not infrequently. What has enabled you to develop your career without job hopping?
I would generally agree that many times advancing means changing companies. When I joined Point72, I really thought that I would only be here for two years max. However, the Firm is fast-paced and dynamic. We are continually pushing forward and growing in very strategic ways. This opens opportunities to grow even if you stay within the same function, as there are always new projects and initiatives to support. I have been motivated to dive in and take on these new opportunities and initiatives. If I didn’t actively participate and engage in change, then I would not have the opportunity to continue to develop in the ways that I have.
Ultimately, what has led you to stay at Point72?
Point72 moves at a fast pace and continually challenges me. I think this and the fact that I work with smart, collaborative people really keeps me engaged and motivated.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Point72 that you think they should?
How many smart and dedicated people work at this Firm. I am continually pleasantly surprised at the quality of talent that we hire. I personally and professionally enjoy working with this talented group of highly motivated people. The Firm has a deep interest in developing talent and offering opportunities and it really shows across the board.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
The willingness to deliver open and honest feedback.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
It’s simple: To be myself at all times and to believe in myself.
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