I want to give women a hand up ladder
In climbing the corporate ladder Alison Morrison has had to build a few rungs of her own. From corporate trust, to asset management, to risk and compliance, she has adapted to fit both her professional and personal needs.
The mother-of-three said her role now was to make sure that ladder remains for other women to climb.
“If we don’t do that in business, we’re not going to help the next generation get to where they need to be,” said the founding member of Bermuda’s 100 Women in Finance.
“There are definitely female leaders who take that role very seriously and then there are other women who have made it to that pinnacle and the ladder’s not there.
“A lot of what I’m doing at my stage of life is figuring how to give back, how to make a difference and how to help other people.”
One hundred Women in Finance launched two years ago. Ms Morrison based it on an organisation of women she had met while on business trips in New York.
“I met these phenomenal women and every single one of them had this common connection. They were all members of this group called 100 Women in Hedge Funds,” she said.
“I really wanted to make this group happen in Bermuda. Not only would this put us on the map in terms of New York and London, every single time we have an event, 13,000 people would know that we were having this event in Bermuda.”
She arranged a dinner here with the group’s CEO, Amanda Pullinger.
“There were 15 women there who could really move the dial. People from all industries — accounting, law firms, insurance companies,” she recalled.
“We couldn’t be a recognised group until we had 100 members so in January 2015 I tasked all the women who were attending that dinner to go out and find ten more. By the end of March we had 100 women.”
Ms Morrison began her career in 1986 at the Bank of Bermuda. After ten years in corporate trust, she was forced to change tack. The environment at that time “wasn’t very supportive of women”.
“I was pregnant with my third child and I knew then that I’d have to make a move,” she said. “Any job when you’re managing staff, you’re working very long hours and that wasn’t conducive to managing three young children at home.”
She took on a new role writing courses and training staff at the bank, before moving into compliance.
Hemisphere Management then took her on as a risk and compliance officer.
“It was a very exciting time in my career. It was 1998, the year 2000 was coming up — I travelled all over the US helping everybody plan and prepare for what was supposed to be this major event. Everybody was paranoid that the whole world was going to come to a grinding halt.
“Midnight came and the world kept turning. No computers blew up and that was that.”
She set up Oyster Consulting (Bermuda) Ltd in 2012.
“Now, I work 24-7 but I love it. It’s a passion and, for me, it’s not work,” said the 55-year-old.
“Everything you do, you have to do with passion. You have to take something from it that gives you satisfaction.
“Whatever career path I would have taken would have had that driving force behind it.
“I didn’t really know anything about risk; sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. I feel like women don’t do that as much as they should.
“Sometimes in life we have to jump in with both feet. You have to think, What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
• Join Alison Morrison in a walk through Hamilton as part of International Women’s Day tomorrow.
The event is part of an annual observance by the United Nations.
Ms Morrison, managing director of Oyster Consulting (Bermuda) Ltd, sits on the board of The Women’s Resource Centre and founded 100 Women in Finance in 2015.
“A lot of what I’m doing at my stage of life is figuring how to give back, how to make a difference and how to help other people,” she said.
“[The WRC] really tied in with my whole focus on building 100 Women in Finance and seeing how women can help other women which for me, I think, is the most important thing.”
One Hundred Women in Finance was initially called 100 Women in Hedge Funds. The name was changed to make it more inclusive.
• Walkers will leave City Hall at 12pm and head to Par-la-Ville Park.
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