Ask Jane Dharam, Manager Client Strategies and Products with Funds SA, about her very first job in the superannuation industry and her eyes will lighten up: “It was fascinating. My first job was as an investment research analyst, researching companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and making recommendations to buy, sell or hold them. There were so many things I loved about the job,” says Jane who was born in Queensland and now lives in Adelaide.
Effortlessly she is quick in listing her favourites: “Chatting with CEOs about the future of their businesses and industries, forecasting earnings, seeing the interconnectivity of financial market movements when interest or exchange rates or commodity prices change company valuations, visiting warehouse operations or retail premises to understand customers and supply and distribution chains.”
It’s that element of research that seems to weave itself through all the roles that Jane has had so far and that is even an essential part of her current position: “I’m most interested in member outcomes in retirement and how to positively improve them.” This could be by investment product design or via engagement strategies and communications, she says.
What Jane loves most about working in the superannuation industry is that it is a growth industry which she is excited to be part of. It also allows her to add value to and make a difference in someone’s life.
In particular the latter is a kind of win for her; something which the former Director of the Adelaide Fringe Festival just began to document daily: “I have recently started a new practice – at the end of each day, I write down three wins accomplished that day and three wins to accomplish the next day. At the end of the week, despite all else, you’ve had at least 21 wins,” she says with a big smile encouraging everyone to give it a go.
Asked about her biggest success, Jane modestly mentions that the things she is most proud of are those achievements made as part of a team. “Great things can be achieved through collaborative discussions – making a plan more robust and furthering the outcome beyond what could be achieved via individual efforts.”
And what is her attitude towards failure? “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” Jane quotes Winston Churchill. “Everyone has failures, makes mistakes and has weaknesses. I think what I have learnt is that if you can get to the point of reducing the time it takes to learn from these failures you can go onto better and higher levels of success,” she says and recommends Ray Dalio’s “Principles for Success in 30 minutes” in which he suggests to reflect well and face reality to find the way forward.
Speaking of the way forward, Jane has a fascinating idea of who she thinks is a great role model for our industry and does not have to think long about it: “Our children,” she says. “The curriculum they are being taught today is amazing – resilience, mindfulness, how to foster an inquiring mind, the art of questioning and listening, a focus on sustainability. These are all skills most Gen X’s, like myself, have been taught later in their careers – let alone in primary school! Great role models are coming to a workforce near you in less than ten years!”
What a great attitude and view!