IWD: NTAM’s Dzanis on her calling to be the role model she never had

‘I want to be everything nobody was for me’

Theo Andrew

Marie Dzanis

Marie Dzanis, head of asset management for EMEA at Northern Trust Asset Management (NTAM), is clear about the legacy she wants to leave the industry.

Having risen through the ranks over a 32-year career, working for the likes of Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Asset Management and BlackRock in the US, Dzanis (pictured) can now safely be considered one of the most influential figures in European asset management.

Speaking to ETF Stream ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD), Dzanis believes she is at the point in her career where she can offer the most as a mentor to those making their way in the industry.

“I always believe in mentoring people and at this stage in my career my calling is to leave a legacy of people that go on to do things far greater than I ever could,” she said.

“I want to be everything nobody was for me. I did not have a rulebook, I did not have playbook on what to do in my career. I wish somebody said to me ‘do not do this’ or ‘focus on this’.

“There are formal things like the language and tone you use and then there are informal things like communities or even playing golf that can help you socialise with the workforce differently.”

Dzanis said individuals need three types of mentors throughout their careers. One as a cheerleader in the early days, the second to “gut check” how you handle certain situations as you gain more responsibility and the third to have somebody to challenge you as you get more senior.

“As you join boards later in your career, it is about learning how to be effective in an organisation and influence people who think differently than you,” she said.

Dzanis added more needs to be done to empower women within the workforce to speak up and offer their opinion to senior members of the team, a culture she believes starts with the leader of the business.

Furthermore, she said companies must go further to “understand the cliff edge” of where diverse talent is lost.

“If you do not have the infrastructure and framework, not only to have a progressive line of sight to the next opportunity, but to open and encourage dialogue with employees, you run the risk of losing talent more frequently,” she said.

“I often reflect upon a Harvard University study that found women need to act with almost 100% certainty before they are ready to take on any role, conversely, men operate with 30% certainty.”

Alongside her role as head of asset management for EMEA, Dzanis is also CEO of Northern Trust Global Investments, leading the firm’s expansion across the ETF market in Europe.

At NTAM, Dzanis said the business is committed to interviewing a diverse set of candidates when hiring for a role and is also a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter.

“From a business case standpoint, having your frameworks and governance in place to encompass all the benefits of cognitive diversity, experiential diversity and gender not only better reflects your client's interests but also helps your firm,” she added.

However, it is the value of being a mentor that Dzanis places the most emphasis on.

“You have the power to be a little bit extraordinary every day,” she said. “Think about how you can purposely help somebody else and never underestimate the impact you have on people.”

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