Donal Guilfoyle of Fidelity Investments is smiling into the camera.
Donal Guilfoyle. Image: Fidelity Investments

Why you should make the most of not-so-brilliant managers

27 Feb 2020

Throughout his career from retail banking to investment, with a year in Australia in between, Fidelity’s Donal Guilfoyle has taken away some important lessons.

Depending on how far along your career path you are, you may already have experienced a range of different bosses and diverse managerial styles.

In his journey from retail to investment banking, Donal Guilfoyle has learned plenty from his seniors along the way. Here, he discusses his current role as a senior manager in global corporate actions at Fidelity Investments, and how he got there.

‘It was a big change going from retail banking to sitting on the trading floor of a big investment bank’

What first stirred your interest in a career in this area?

I started my career working in the wealth management team of a retail bank. The team provided financial planning advice to retail banking customers. After five years in wealth management, I decided to go to Australia for a year. It was there that I got my first contracting role in corporate actions, which are events that affect the securities issued by a company, such as a stock split, merger or dividend payment.

It was a big change going from retail banking to sitting on the trading floor of a big investment bank. I loved the buzz of the trading floor and the daily challenges associated with working in corporate actions.

What experiences led you to the role you now have?

While working in retail banking, I completed a degree in financial services through the Institute of Bankers. While this was very beneficial, I feel it is the experience I gained through 10 years of working in various corporate actions roles that led me to my current role as a senior manager at Fidelity Investments.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?

The biggest challenge was moving from retail to investment banking. It was a completely different environment. The role was challenging and there was very little training and support for new starters where I worked at that time.

You had to hit the ground running and get up to speed very quickly. The traders were very demanding and didn’t tolerate mistakes. It taught me to be organised and accurate. It was a high-pressure environment, so I definitely had to become more resilient to survive.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

There is no one person who has influenced me – I have learned a lot from many different people over the years. I have had different managers along the way. Some were brilliant, some were not. I learned equally from both.

The good managers showed me what works well. With the others, I saw what they were doing badly and decided not to do that if I was in the same situation in the future.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the sense of teamwork and collaboration. Every day it is a team effort to get the work done and overcome the challenges we face. I also enjoy trying to help people develop and progress their careers.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I think I remain calm under pressure. My wife might disagree with that!

How did Fidelity Investments support you on your career path?

There is a huge focus on personal development at Fidelity. Everyone is encouraged to develop new skills to help drive career progression.

There is also a big emphasis on mobility within Fidelity. Since joining Fidelity a little over two years ago, I have already had the opportunity to work with three different teams within the wider corporate actions team. This has been great for my personal and professional development.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Work hard and embrace any opportunities you get to expand your knowledge and add new skills. Don’t be afraid to accept new challenges, it will benefit you in the long run.

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