Morning Coffee: Woman with top job in finance saved by a lack of charm. David Solomon's strange discotheque
Dawn Fitzpatrick has the job many people in finance would love to have: she is chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management, the family office of George Soros. She manages Soros's $28bn fortune and, in her own words can, “do things faster and in a bigger size than almost any other investor." As head of a family office, Fitzpatrick says can make decisions to invest $100m to $500m in a matter of hours. Other, larger, funds "tend to have a process that could take weeks or months."
Now aged 52, Fitzpatrick has been in finance three decades. Her career began as a 22-year-old clerk in a'pleated skirt and twin sweater set on the American Stock Exchange trading floor. She says she was "cute, prime and proper," but survived and now occupies a position once associated with legendary (male) investors like Stanley Druckenmiller, who was the former lead investor of the Soros Quantum Fund.
It could have been different. At one point in her career, Fitzpatrick was nearly steered into sales. As the only female trader at O'Connor Associates, which later became part of UBS in the late 1990s, Fitzpatrick said the bank tried to convert her into a salesperson, despite the fact that she'd just made a lot of money trading convertibles. It was only the admonition of a trusted advisor that stopped her switching over: "You are a natural investor — and you’re not that charming,’’ he pointed out.
In this way, Fitzpatrick was saved from the 'mommy track' that is investor relations and marketing. When there are women on the buy-side, this is where they tend to work. - As Fitzpatrick points out, despite having advantages like humility and a willingness to cut losses, women only occupy 10% of portfolio management roles and only 2% of senior portfolio management roles. They're mostly in client-facing roles where they can work their charm.
A lack of charm can therefore be a career positive. In Fitzpatrick's case, it doesn't appear to be associated with a lack of femininity. The New York Times reports that she kept a pair Louboutins under her desk at UBS but often walked around the office barefoot. “Clearly, there are single moments in time when I would have rather been a 6-foot-3 blond-haired ex-football-playing guy,” she told the NYT when she got the job at Soros. “But those tended to be offset by the times when I thought it was an advantage to be a woman.”
Separately, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is not going barefoot in the office, but he is hanging out with the kids in downtown Napa.
Solomon just played his slot at Napa's BottleRock Festival, except his enervating beats can't actually be heard. - He was playing at the Silent Disco, where everyone listened to the happy tunes on headphones instead of in the open air. Listeners said Solomon's offering was "energetic" and that this was a "brilliant concept." - “If you haven’t seen David Solomon DJ, you need to,” declared the organizer. You can see him in the clip below, but you won't actually hear his music.
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