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Feature in Nadia Magazine

“Being a young female fund manager makes me a minority, but it’s driven me to succeed. I’ve had to prove I can do it, and do it well." - Victoria Harris

In a boardroom setting, she stands out. She’s not in a grey suit and tie. She’s young. And she’s female. At just 29, Victoria Harris is one of New Zealand’s up-and-coming fund managers and her message is clear: more women need to move into finance and change this picture.

“I’ve been interested in business since I was about six or seven,” she says.“I’d set up little stands on the side of the road, and I loved working out what my expenses were and getting to understand profit.”

She naturally gravitated towards programmes like the Young Enterprise Scheme at school and found herself fascinated by commerce, how companies worked, and what the risks were.

“In the supermarket, I’d look at a product on the shelf, a brand, and think ‘Is it listed? Can I buy shares in this?’”

After completing her business and commerce degree at uni, she worked in asset management, obtaining an overall grounding in managing funds. There were challenges, like once being the only woman at an event with 40 men. On the flipside, no one ever forgot her. Now, she manages Kiwis’ precious retirement savings for the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme.

“Being young and female, I think I have a really unique view on stock calls and where we invest that hard-earned money. For instance, in another role, we once had an opportunity to buy a share of an online female fashion company, and while my peers couldn’t understand the concept and how it worked, I did. I just knew we had to buy it.”

She says that while some clients still think “a whole lot of grey hair on an investment team” equals more experience, Victoria says whole teams of mature men mean “you might be missing out on trends and opportunities that are emerging in and for the largest demographic in the world – millennials.”

Finance has also allowed her a lifestyle many of Victoria’s peers haven’t attained yet. She bought her own home well in advance of her 30th birthday. She travels. She has skin in the game – she herself is an investor through JUNO’s parent company Pie Funds, so she rides the highs and lows of her own decisionmaking, too.

“Being a young female fund manager makes me a minority, but it’s driven me to succeed. I’ve had to prove I can do it, and do it well. I have fire in my belly, I ask good questions, I spot trends that others might not, and I don’t like to be underestimated.” •