Wolfgang joined the Trustee Board in 2019, we caught up with him to find out a little more about him.
Wolfgang, firstly I understand that you are currently talking to me from Bavaria.
WB: Yes, that’s correct. My wife and son are currently in Shanghai due to the Corona virus lockdown; she is the founder of a biotech company based there and normally splits her time between Shanghai and London. When it became apparent that the UK would be entering lockdown, they could not return to London and I could not travel to China. l decided to return to my Bavarian hometown as opposed to be locked down alone in London. Obviously, I get to speak to them by video call, but we are all looking forward to being reunited in London once the situation eases.
How are you finding working during the lockdown?
WB: We have the right technology so it’s going okay. That said, I very much enjoy working as part of a team, interacting directly with the other fund managers, investment specialists and credit analysts. I can still do this by telephone or video call, but it is not the same as sitting across the office from them.
I understand that you studied chemistry at university, how did that lead to working in the financial world?
WB: It was a combination of a couple of realisations during the last couple of years studying for my PhD. Firstly, I had always thought I wanted to be a specialist and a career in the scientific world certainly enabled me to specialise. However, I realised I am more a generalist and I needed a career that was not as singularly focused as I had originally thought. Secondly, I was also studying for my PhD during the last global financial crisis. This awakened my interest, given how the financial world is integrated into everything we do.
As a result, I decided to take a couple of additional courses, at the same time as my PhD, covering finance, economics and accounting. So, it was a combination of wanting to have a career with a broader area of focus and my developing interest in the world of finance that brought me to where I am now.
I am still very much interested in science, but now as a hobby.
So, what made you choose M&G?
WB: Universities hold ‘job fairs’ where graduates can meet potential employers. What made M&G stand out was they were the only asset management company that subsequently invited graduates to their offices to meet their potential colleagues. This coupled with the very warm welcome when I took up the company’s offer made me decide that M&G had exactly the right culture I was looking for.
I think M&G’s approach to graduate recruitment is excellent and to, in some way, pay back the opportunity it afforded me, I look to get involved with the graduate recruitment programme as much as I can.
What made you decide to put yourself up for election as a Trustee Director.
WB: Again, it was a combination of things. My desire to be a generalist. Along with investments, managing a pension scheme also includes pension legislation, operational management and member communications. It also affords me the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the organisation as the Trustee Directors come from other areas within the business. I am also a member of the DC Section myself, so I have some ‘skin in the game’ personally.
And finally, what have you personally taken away from your experience so far as a Trustee Director?
WB: Most of the Trustee Director work is undertaken during meetings, either as a full Board or as smaller sub-committees and working parties. The Chairman and those Trustee Directors who chair these meeting do an excellent job. So I guess my biggest ‘take away’ so far would be seeing how these individuals chair the various meetings and looking to mimic the skills they demonstrate in the meetings I chair as part of my day job.
Wolfgang, thank you for your time today and I hope the lockdown ends soon so you can be reunited in London with your wife and son.