60 second interview with Nicola Gott, MD, Oak Group
22 June 2020
Tell me about your role
I am the Managing Director of the Oak Group business in Jersey, responsible for 40 people, many clients and leading the Jersey part of the Group’s strategy.
Walk us through your daily routine
I’m up and about by 5.45 am to feed and walk my Labrador pup George, then manage the impossible - getting three teenagers up and ready for school, pack lunches and organise correct books in bags in time for the school run. Once I’ve dropped them off at De La Salle College, I’m usually in the office for 8.15 am and the first key task for the day is to make a nice big cup of Yorkshire tea, then I’m set for whatever the day brings. No day is typically the same but I realise I spend most of my time talking and discussing a whole range of topics on a daily basis. The day is filled with meeting clients, advisors, lawyers, peers, and most importantly my team. I need to be on top of all matters that affect the team and their clients, making sure they have support from myself and the Jersey Board and Group senior leadership team and we achieve this with great communication and an open door policy. I also have a rule of there is no such thing as a stupid question: If you don’t know something or don’t understand it’s okay to ask, and this includes myself. Post Covid-19 and lockdown, we have seen that strong communication has been the centre of our successful BCP (business continuity plan) invocation. We have won various pieces of business, overseen new investments for our clients, all while sat in our homes which has been incredible to witness.
Tell us about a recent client instruction
We have a very active Corporate and Funds business and this has been keeping us busy over the last six months. We have also more recently been very involved with the investment activity of a large regulated fund we administer that financially closed in 2019. This client is heavily involved in the ESG sector, it being a clean and renewable energy fund. Being involved in the decision process on the various projects under consideration is very exciting in what is a very topical and interesting sector and an area I’m personally passionate about.
What is the most challenging issue your clients are facing currently, and how are you helping your clients to overcome it?
If I had answered this question two months ago, the answer would be very different to today. Covid-19 and the extensive impact of the global lockdown it is having on our world and economies will bring huge challenges for clients. There may be opportunities at some point but today our clients with commercial property and/or retail investments need our support and focus. Rent holidays and lease negotiations, debt renewals and loan covenant matters have been the immediate impacts we have had to manage for our clients. On the whole as an industry it’s evident that we are all in this together. Generally, people are co-operating and we are working hard negotiating terms that will protect positions such that on the other side of lockdown, we will hopefully be able to quickly get back to normal.
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
The current period of lockdown will be my proudest professional moment as I’ve seen my team respond so well to the different challenges we’ve had to overcome – it’s an incredible achievement to embrace such a huge change that happened quickly and I know I’ll look back on this in future and consider it a pivotal moment in my career.
What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?
Empathy is one of the most important attributes to have as a leader. Leaders need to be understanding of their teams and people they communicate with and communicate their messages clearly and with accountability. I always say leaders must ‘walk the talk’ as it’s important for their teams to look up to leadership that practices what they preach.
Who do you most admire and why?
I hugely admire the Queen and remember being 10 years old watching Princess Diana get married – since then I’ve admired the Royal Family and consider the Queen to be one of the most incredible people to have walked the planet. I also admire Bill Gates from an entrepreneurial viewpoint and his generosity with the wealth he’s amassed.
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
New York in December with girlfriends – we ran the half marathon, went shopping and drank cocktails which may or may not have had an effect on how well we performed in the race.
If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?
I would have been a business studies teacher – either for year 10 and up or an undergraduate lecturer. Teachers have such an important role in students’ lives and I still remember the best teachers I ever had.I also considered archaeology and working for Armani as a buyer.
How do you relax after a long day?
I usually go for a run with the dog – then cook dinner and (sometimes) have a glass of wine.
Best piece of advice for Generation Z?
Since the pandemic, my advice changed – previously I thought Generation Z are so tech-savvy and used to living life through technology that they may not grow up to be as resilient as previous generations.However I’ve been impressed with the resilience shown by our young people and finding ways to remain connected to each other. My advice for when life is back to normal is to be the change you want to see in the world and protect the planet for future generations.
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