The Managing Director of Fidelity International, Alva Devoy shared her career journey on becoming a MD at our Story to Success event on Wednesday 7th August. Parity would like to thank Alva for an amazing evening with feedback such as “It was one of the most engaging, personal and honest talks I’ve had the privilege of hearing.”
Originally from Ireland, Alva moved to Australia in 2009 and in 2016 was appointed MD of Fidelity International’s Australian business, in addition to her then existing responsibilities as Investment Director, which she continues to hold. Prior to joining Fidelity, Alva held several senior executive, research and strategy roles at companies including CIMB Securities International Australia and RBS Australia.
With a PhD in Molecular Engineering, how exactly did she get into finance? Having studied history as well, Alva learnt a lot about making connections and about research. The common thread throughout her career has been her research skills, which she has found to be transferable and relevant across all industries – “if you can do research in one area, you can do it in another” and that’s how her finance journey began!
Biggest Challenge – Dialling Down Perfectionism
Alva shared that her biggest challenge was overcoming perfectionism – having the confidence not to second guess herself. The key to this was to ask herself the question – what’s the worst that can happen?
Alva shared that the small wins (and big ones as well), gave her the confidence to let things go, take chances and not get hung up on perfection.
“You have to dial that down to move effectively; you cannot worry that everything has to be perfect. If you make 20 decisions and 2 are wrong, that’s okay – learn from it and move on – rectify them quickly”
Alva & Motivation – The People Around You Can Keep You Motivated
It’s who you choose to surround yourself with that can keep you motivated in the long run. Engage with people who lift you up – surrounding herself with smart and interesting people (both inside and outside of work) has been key to Alva’s success. She also has an informal advisory board of highly engaged individuals with whom she meets regularly.
Biggest Regret – What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
Missed opportunities – one of Alva’s biggest regrets was rejecting an offer for a role managing a $10 billion portfolio for a global asset manager – after going through a 2-year process involving 23 interviews across 3 continents. At the time, Alva rationalised her decision with the fact that she was moving to Australia.
In hindsight, Alva realised that the real reason she turned down the role was because she thought she wasn’t good enough to manage a portfolio of that size. Looking back, she wished she had taken the role and had more faith in herself and her capabilities – after all, what is the worst that could happen?
“You wouldn’t be asked to do things, unless someone has faith in you.”
Best Career Advice Given to Alva
Alva’s favourite piece of advice is from a philosopher, Seneca – “The definition of luck is the point where
preparation meets opportunity.” Prepare yourself by educating yourself in the industry; “be curious and question everything – opportunities will present themselves and doors will open.”
“The secret to success is not having an ego, if you are stepping into a new role make sure you seek help with good intentions – help will come towards you, and you will be supported.”
Alva’s Advice to Her Younger Self
Don’t knock back opportunities – This goes back to Alva’s biggest regret. Have faith and trust yourself; don’t second guess yourself because what’s the worst that can happen?
Push your boundaries but not so far that you are on the ledge on your own, because that’s when anxiety will play.
Go out of your comfort zone but reflect and think is the price worth it? Ask yourself: “am I excited about doing this?” If you’re not – then it’s not worth your energy.
Taking Career Breaks Can Accelerate A Career
Alva has taken 3 career breaks during her career. Her last sabbatical was not by choice, as Alva and her team had been made redundant – “I wasn’t done, it wasn’t finished and it was ripped away.”
Following the redundancy, Alva spent over 6 months thinking “what do I do now?” She soon realised that she was burnt out and was running on adrenaline (as was the rest of her team). Alva credits getting promoted to her current leadership role to this sabbatical – “If I didn’t take the time off, I wouldn’t lead the business the way I do now.”
During her sabbatical she took the time to work on herself and do different things such as watching Ted Talks, attend courses and conferences that weren’t always directly related to work.
Leave Things in Better Shape Than When You Found Them!
Alva believes in karma; she endeavours to put out positive energy and tries not to give negative energy. She’d like her legacy to be leaving the world better than she found it:
“Any life I touch, I’d like to leave it better after our interaction.”
Thank you to everyone who attended our Story to Success with Alva Devoy – we hope you walked away with some great takeaways and would love to hear back from you on what your highlight of the evening was!
To get in contact with our team, email us at email@example.com or give us a buzz on +61 2 8068 2016 or +61 3 9016 8606. We hope to see you at one of our next events!