• Investment Management

Stepping In and Stepping Up for Workplace Equality

Investment Management’s Laura Bottega says that encouraging young women to pursue careers in the often male dominated field of asset management is a story that bears repeating.

When Investment Management’s Laura Bottega was 16 years old, a local TV anchor visited her high school to inspire students to consider a career in journalism. The experience made an impression, eventually driving her toward a pivotal job at CNN in Washington, D.C.  

The best part is helping people realize a path they may never have considered exploring.
Laura Bottega Investment Management

Although her career path would eventually lead to the vastly different field of financial services, Bottega picked up an important skill: the understanding that everything—especially people—has a hidden story waiting to be told.

Bottega, who was recently named Investment Manager of the Year in the inaugural UK Women in Pensions Awards, says that even in a data-driven industry like financial services, stories are how people understand complex ideas. “I was able to turn my interest in storytelling—my ability to distill messages—into something valuable in the asset management business."

Her storytelling skills and her wide-ranging asset management experience propelled Bottega to the top tier of Investment Management’s International Equity team as Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Specialist, Global Franchise Equity—a London-based post she has held for the past nine years.

“At the end of the day, we're investing in companies. Every company has a story, so by extension every portfolio has a story and a mission," she adds. “I think stories can help you communicate in a very simple way to clients—and even to each other—when making investment decisions."

Step In, Step Up

Bottega also has a passion for helping young girls discover their life stories. Through Morgan Stanley’s Step In, Step Up program, Bottega encourages school-age young women to explore careers in the often male-dominated fields of asset management and financial services. The program presents Morgan Stanley’s opportunities to the UK’s independent and state schools. Bottega’s team focuses on West London girls’ schools.

“I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring than the bright, shining face of a younger person just starting out in life," she says. “For these kids, it makes a big difference to have a role model to help them think about what their career choices are, and that someone took the time to speak to them.”

She notes that some young women struggle with the notion of banking as a fulfilling career or self-select themselves out of the financial services profession. In addition to Step In, Step Up, Bottega was instrumental in helping participate in workplace mentoring programs at Morgan Stanley to ensure that younger colleagues “feel equipped for success," and to spot women with high potential who need encouragement. She now represents Investment Management on the EMEA Diversity Action Council. 

Communicating above the Line

In her current role as Senior Portfolio Specialist, Bottega oversees client relationships with clients around the world, from corporate and government pensions, to banks and family offices, for three of Morgan Stanley's flagship global equities strategies: Global Franchise, Global Quality and Global Sustain.

“A portfolio specialist sits in the center of portfolio managers, the sales team and clients," Bottega says. “My job is to tell the story. I first distill the key message from the portfolio managers, then communicate that message to sales, who then have the tools to explain the various funds to clients. It’s important that I pitch our team’s products with a passion that reflects that of our team."

In telling essential stories, Bottega says she channels business leader Ray Dalio's dictum of “communicating above the line," dipping into details only when she needs to—not getting into the weeds.

Most recently, the International Equity team has focused on developing Global Sustain, a concentrated global equity fund that is carbon light, strong on engagement and built on quality. “Clients are increasingly interested in ESG integrated funds that do not require a choice between profit and purpose; they want ‘compounding, with a conscience,’” she adds.

It's a high-wire job that's different every day, requiring travel and time away from her husband and three daughters. Still, she makes time to mentor young girls, coaching them to claim the empowering stories that drive success in any field.  

“Over the years, I've seen a number of girls come through the program who I've spoken to when they were at school," Bottega says. “They've gone to university and they show up here at Morgan Stanley, and they come find me.  And I think that’s the best part: to feel that you've had some influence, and that people suddenly realize a path they may never have considered exploring.”