3 Steps to Gaining Influence and Landing Management Roles

Sponsored by Fisher Investments

Photo Courtesy of Fisher Investments.

Photo Courtesy of Fisher Investments.

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Fairygodboss
June 19, 2024 at 1:43AM UTC

Scarlet Wai joined Fisher Investments 20 years ago. In that time, she’s seen the firm grow from 80 employees to over 3,600. But according to the technologist, it still represents the safe space she first encountered. 

“I still remember speaking to two women in technology during the interview process, which was a rarity in the industry at the time,” she shared. “I had an immediate sense of comfort knowing women were represented in this space.”

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During her tenure at the firm, Wai’s watched herself grow, too — thanks in large part to Fisher’s supportive environment, which encourages stretching your wings. 

“The goal is to build lifelong careers here,” she told Fairygodboss. “My background is primarily in Infrastructure & Operations, but I’ve gained experiences in Information Security, Technology Management and Application Development, for example.”

In her latest career move, Wai was chosen to lead a new group called Technology Management, an important part of Fisher Investments’ technology transformation. Recently, she shared how she’s made a name for herself as a woman in technology and her keys to the kind of professional development that creates a meaningful career path. She also shared more about what candidates should know about Fisher Investments — and working on the tech team, specifically. Yes, they are hiring!

What makes you excited to be a female leader in technology? 

Usually technology is a group that we don’t talk much about, right? We are the silent partners working in the background to ensure the business can run. But things are changing so fast in the technology world, especially in our current environment, and our group has the ability to make a huge impact on the business. Our firm is undergoing a technology transformation and I was chosen to lead a new group called Technology Management. I know it will be a lot of work, but I’m excited to build something from the ground up and watch it succeed. We get to bring innovative technologies to the organization and I enjoy getting to support and grow our team! 

Can you tell me more about the Technology Transformation at Fisher Investments and what it means for incoming technology candidates? 

At Fisher, we are transforming our Technology organization to scale our technology capabilities to  better align with overall business strategies. We’re bringing new technologies to the organization, leveraging automation, and creating new functions across the technology landscape.  

We’ve seen so much growth over the past few years, candidates have many different options for career paths and management opportunities within Technology. The goal is to build lifelong careers here. We know that creating teams across different areas of technology will give employees an opportunity to build new skill sets, acquire a breadth of knowledge and stay motivated by new challenges. 

My background is primarily in Infrastructure & Operations, but I’ve gained experiences in Information Security, Technology Management and Application Development. I’ve been able to create a well-rounded career path for myself and we want that experience for all employees.

How did you make the decision to work at Fisher and what is keeping you at the same company 20+ years later? 

I joined Fisher over 20 years ago and still remember speaking to two women in technology during the interview process, which was a rarity in the industry at the time. I had an immediate sense of comfort knowing women were represented in this space. Fisher was a small, privately owned company where I saw growth opportunities and the ability to make a larger impact. It’s hard to believe that the 80-employee company when I started has become over 3,600 employees. 

I continue to make Technology at Fisher my lifelong career. Since I had, and still have, the opportunity to try different jobs and roles, I always feel challenged and engaged. I get to experience the excitement of starting something entirely new at a company that understands my strengths and values my contributions. I haven’t gotten bored yet and my career is always progressing. 

What were the 3 keys to your professional development and how did you leverage those to create a career path for yourself? 

  1. Continuing my education. My first role at Fisher was in end user support. I took classes at community colleges and obtained industry certifications to expand my technical skills. My degree gave me the book knowledge, but I had to fill in the gaps for hands-on technical experience. There are so many resources available on the internet, classes and conferences to help you gain new skill sets you’ll need for your career. 

  1. Leaning on my mentors and managers for guidance. Being open and honest with my manager about my career goals was so important in my career development. I’ve had amazing mentors throughout my career at Fisher. They taught me the on-the-job skills and laid out the paths I could take to grow my career. They were able to connect me with the right people to understand the details around each career path. As a manager myself, my goal is to help my employees succeed. I want them to be happy and grow their career as I got the opportunity to. 

  1. Finding opportunities to help others. As the firm started to grow organically, I found opportunities to mentor more employees and eventually helped with hiring. I’m always willing to help others and enjoyed providing honest feedback to my colleagues. There was never a question or person I wouldn’t make time for. The trust and relationships I have built during my career at Fisher led to more leadership opportunities.  

How were you able to find your voice in the industry and make a name for yourself, especially as a female in an underrepresented space?

Building credibility as a leader helped me find my voice in Technology. I continue to find opportunities to grow my knowledge by joining Industry associations, attending Technology Conferences and networking with peers.  My credentials, education and community contributed to the name I made for myself.

Fisher encourages all employees to have a voice and I find that to be true — especially for women in Technology. I like to listen and understand the situation before speaking up and question things when I feel it is important. The opportunity is always there and I learned to take advantage of it. 

I foster an environment on my team where every voice is heard, understanding that it’s not the most natural thing for everyone. I’ve seen a lot of personal growth in this area — maybe I’ve had more practice being vocal since I’ve become a mom. I want to be a role model to my employees, as well as my daughters, to make sure that they know that they have a voice in whatever career they choose.

What is the culture like within the technology group? 

We have a transparent and honest culture where you are encouraged to be yourself.  On the day-to-day, we focus on supporting our clients, managing technologies across the organization, maturing processes and creating new capabilities in Technology.  Because of the nature of our roles, the work is more independent, but we come together for collaborative projects, sharing recognition across our teams and celebrating milestones. 

Why should a female candidate choose to work at Fisher over another company?

Our globally recognized, firm-wide training and development programs help employees create their life-long career paths. I’m excited that we’re developing technical training for the department so employees can get what they need in-house and find out what roles are a good fit for them. I see a lot more women in technology coming through our doors now, which is great to see.

I’m surrounded by people I really enjoy working with who make me feel connected and appreciated. I still run into coworkers that started with me 20 years ago and they remember me from our first few weeks together in our California office. Work-life balance is so important to me and is something I’ve been able to achieve here. I’ve been able to excel in my professional career and also be present at home for my two daughters.  

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