Michelle is a Director at Lazard Asset Management Pacific Co., in Sydney
How would you depict where you were raised and how that helped guide you as an adult?
I was brought up in sunny Sydney in a wonderful, loving family who instilled in me the belief that, with focus and determination, I could achieve anything. My parents made their children’s education their priority. After graduating from high school in Sydney, I continued my education at the University of Oxford in England where I focused on Oriental Studies in Japanese.
What attracted you to trading?
As a university student concentrating on arts, particularly languages, I was thrilled when I was offered a summer internship on a big equity trading floor in Tokyo. My eyes were opened to the dynamic, fun, fast world of trading and the eclectic mix of characters who filled the floor. After completing my studies in England, I moved to Japan as a graduate on a Tokyo sales-trading desk.
The pace of the market, especially at that time in Tokyo, was thrilling and the desk was so busy that I was given clients from day one. The team with whom I worked were supportive, entertaining and enlightening.
Why did you choose Lazard Asset Management?
Lazard was my client when I was a sell-side trader. I got to know their traders and portfolio and was thrilled when I was offered a job in Sydney to trade with the global team. From Sydney, we trade all markets ranging in time zones from New Zealand to Pakistan, so my knowledge of Japan and other Asian markets complements the desk.
Having come from the competitive sell-side world, Lazard was a refreshing change, offering a respectful, lifestyle-friendly, cohesive team environment in which people of all backgrounds and experiences can flourish. The culture of the office is professional yet relaxed enough that people can bring their full selves to work, enhancing the business process through diversity of thought where everyone has a voice.
What interests you most about your work here?
I love my role as a trader. The adrenaline rush of the ever-changing market and the challenges it presents is invigorating. Since I started trading 20 years ago, technology has disrupted some aspects of trading and innovations have improved processes, however, the importance of relationships in trading remains paramount. I find the ‘people’ side of trading particularly interesting and often underestimated.
Are you involved in any initiatives outside of your role as a trader at Lazard?
I have always been passionate about encouraging a more diverse range of people to join the industry and, as such, am delighted to be part of Lazard Asset Management’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Additionally, I’m part of Lazard Asset Management’s internal mentoring program. Having both a mentee and a mentor, both roles are invaluable to my professional development. I have also participated in an external mentoring program with university students which I strongly recommend.
How would you advise young people who might be considering a career at Lazard?
Don’t wait for opportunities, make them for yourself. Push boundaries, speak up and share your thoughts and ideas, they matter and people will listen. Lazard is a great firm with an incredible, inspiring and supportive team.
What are some of your outside interests?
I grew up near the beach and have a life-long love of the ocean. I swim at the beach whenever I can and delight in building sandcastles with my two children. I enjoy music and dancing, especially the Latin kind. Eating is another of my passions, I can’t say ‘no’ to chocolate.