Name: Ruth du Toit
Title: Quantitative Researcher and Reading Group Facilitator
Organisation: Hudson & Thames
I facilitate a reading group, engaging industry professionals in discussions on cutting-edge research in quantitative finance.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Ruth's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
To resonate deeply and meaningfully with everyone, has been both my greatest challenge and my most rewarding achievement. The ability to resonate with everyone has not just been about imparting knowledge or ideas; it's been about creating a shared space of understanding and connection.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My journey to leadership was catalyzed by the responsibility of facilitating and coordinating the reading group in quantitative finance for industry professionals.
I am acutely aware that the quality and relevance of the information I provide could have significant implications. It is a responsibility I embrace, understanding that the ripple effects of our discussions could lead to substantial improvements and advancements in the industry.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I start my day with a hearty breakfast, setting the tone for a productive day ahead. The morning stand-up meeting is key, where we align our goals and energize for the day's tasks. To unwind, I take an evening walk, which helps me rejuvenate for the challenges of the next day.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent leadership insight I've gained is the recognition that leadership is not confined to a single domain or professional setting. In my role, I interact with individuals who are leaders in their respective fields or even in their personal lives. This diversity of leadership experience within the group has taught me the importance of humility and the willingness to learn from others, regardless of the context. It's a reminder that everyone has something to teach us, and every setting offers a chance to grow. This understanding has not only enriched our discussions but also fostered a culture of mutual respect and continuous learning. It underscores the idea that leadership is not just about guiding others, but also about being open to guidance and insights from those around us, acknowledging that everyone is a leader in some aspect of their life.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
One book that has profoundly influenced my approach to leadership is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. This book delves into the dual-process theory of the mind, explaining how our thinking is divided into two systems: one fast, intuitive, and emotional; the other slower, more deliberative, and more logical. 've learned to quickly grasp new concepts (fast thinking) while also taking the time to deeply analyze and understand the implications of these concepts (slow thinking). The book's emphasis on cognitive biases and logical fallacies has also been invaluable in helping me identify and mitigate these issues in group discussions, leading to more productive and insightful sessions.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
As someone who's still navigating the waters of young leadership myself, I'm probably not the best person to be doling out wisdom. But here's a thought – leadership opportunities often don't come with a label. They might sneak up on you, disguised as a challenge or a routine task. When they do, you might not immediately recognize them for what they are. So, my advice? Keep an open mind and be ready to roll with the punches. Embrace the unexpected!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One of the most meaningful experiences in my leadership journey occurred while facilitating a reading group on quantitative finance for industry professionals. The challenge was not just about grasping complex financial concepts, but more importantly, about translating these intricate ideas into digestible, relatable insights. My boss at the time played a pivotal role in this. He encouraged me to use everyday life analogies to make these abstract topics more tangible. This approach not only made the material more accessible but also fostered an inclusive and engaging learning environment. It taught me a valuable lesson in leadership: the power of simplifying complex ideas to create a space where everyone feels empowered to contribute and learn.