Laurene Azoulay: An inspiring journey

08 March 2024 by National Bank Investments
Photo of Laurene Azoulay, Global Head of Client Portfolio Management for Quantitative Equity strategies at GSAM

On International Women's Day, NBI wants to celebrate and share the journey of industry executive Laurene Azoulay, who holds a global role at our open architecture partner Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM). In this video, Laurene discusses her role, her female role models, the challenges still facing women in the industry, and shares advice for women and men who are starting out in the financial sector.

Video topics

A global role

Laurene Azoulay is Global Head of Client Portfolio Management for Quantitative Equity strategies at GSAM. In 2024, she was named a managing director.

Laurene focuses on product, client and sales strategy globally for the suite of quantitative equity strategies. In addition, her responsibilities extend to portfolio management for the team’s U.S. large cap equity strategy.

Prior to joining the firm in 2016, Laurene was a quantitative analyst for option-based strategies at Panorama Partners Hedge Fund. She graduated University Paris Dauphine (France) with a BA in Mathematics and holds a MA in Mathematics of Finance from Columbia University (New York).

What do you enjoy the most about your role?

Laurene Azoulay
I think what I find the most exciting about my role is, you know, what really makes me look forward to coming to work every day is simply the diversity of tasks that and skill sets that I get to employ.

I think quantitative finance is really exciting, especially today there's just incredible advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning and we have an incredible team, very smart, very creative, that is really using techniques in a very powerful way in our investment process. But I also love working with our clients every day. And you know, they're a constant reminder of the responsibility that we have as a team. These are the life savings or retirement savings and our job is to do our best to prudently manage, help them grow their wealth. So you know, one thing I really appreciate is knowing that my work makes a big impact on people's life.

Who are your role models?

Laurene Azoulay
I find it so inspiring to see how many incredible female leaders we see today across many fields, both in and out of finance.

One person I've always personally deeply admired is Christine Lagarde. She has had such a story of career in in public service. She has served France as Minister of Finance, she served Europe as the President of the ECB but also the international community during her time at the IMF.

And you know, on top of this she is a mom. She's passionate about a lot of different things, including travelling, women rights and even synchronized swimming, believe it or not. And so I just find it very inspirational that she has shown the flexibility to excel in so many different roles, which is really something that I hope you know to be able to do in my career as well.

What are the challenges still facing women in the industry today?

Laurene Azoulay
So maybe for turning to the challenges, I actually want to take a second to reflect briefly on the progress that we've made so far. And I must thank all the woman that came before me and worked so hard to get us to where we at today.

You know, for instance, Jane Fraser is, is a leader in finance. I admire her deeply and she's now the CEO of Citigroup. For the CEO of a major bank to be female, I think that would have been unthinkable just a couple of decades ago.

And so there's been tremendous progress and I know that it took a lot of work from a lot of different women over the years.

However, I know there is a lot of improvement that we need to see in our industry. You know overall woman representation has gotten much better in the past years but senior leadership is obviously still an almost all-male world when you look, you know, across the board.

And so I think it's important to recognize that certain areas of finance have seen more progress than others. Sitting within the quantitative team, there is a clear underrepresentation of women, you know.

But they're also wonderful organizations out there that work really hard to help improve the visibility of quantitative careers to young women, organizations like Girls Who Code or Girls Who Invest, doing a very good job at encouraging the next generation.

Any advice to give to women and men who are starting out in the financial services industry and who aspire to hold a role like yours?

Laurene Azoulay
Don't be afraid to be assertive and confident in yourself. Sometimes I think that a woman tends to feel less comfortable speaking up for themselves or you know, afraid of disagreeing with someone more senior.

Be confident in yourself. You're in your role because the people who hired you were confident in you. Your ideas, your talent, they're really an asset to the team. So be confident. Speak up.

Another point I think is also important is actually mentorship. Spend time finding individuals that can be both a role model and a mentor. It can make such a big impact.

Women and Wealth: Tools for you

Canadian women are set to manage 50% of the country's wealth by 2026. As an advisor, how can you help female investors optimize it?

Take our free “Women and Wealth” online training and earn 1 CE Credit/PDU. To learn more, contact your  NBI Sales Representative.

And read these insightful articles:

Resources to share with your clients

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Learn more: Take action & Invest in you – Women’s finances

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