Image: ARDEA Investment Management
Dr Laura Ryan is Head of Research at ARDEA and is responsible for both the Client Solutions and Portfolio Research teams. The Portfolio Research team is responsible for developing value-added trade recommendations to drive portfolio performance and improve client outcomes. The Client Solutions team undertakes independent quantitative research to help clients solve investment problems.
Previously, Laura was Senior Vice President (Quantitative Research) and a member of the Australian senior management team at PIMCO. With more than two decades of investment experience, Laura’s other roles include Manager of Quantitative Strategy at Commonwealth Bank, Quantitative Manager at AMP Capital and Lecturer in Statistics at the Australian National University (ANU).
Laura is also an internationally published academic, with papers appearing in ‘The Journal of Portfolio Management’ and ‘The Journal of Forecasting’, among others. Laura holds a Ph.D. in Statistics from the ANU, a Master of Quantitative Finance from the University of Technology Sydney and an Honours degree in Actuarial Studies from the ANU.
Laura’s responses to questions from CBE students
What does it take to make it to the top in your field?
I’m not sure I’m at the top of my field yet, but I think it takes persistence and resilience! I think you need to be willing (and hopefully want) to continually train and learn new skills as well. Finance is always evolving and so you need to be able to adapt.
How did your experience working in academia and industry differ? What were your main takeaways from these experiences?
Industry expects an answer yesterday, whereas Academia certainly allows more thinking time. Obviously there are times when finding a “good enough” solution is the right approach, and other times when detail and granularity are extremely important. I hope having experience in both academia and industry has allowed me to balance the requirement for a speedy delivery with the requirement for accuracy.
What are the career paths for PhD/MPhil graduates in industry in your field?
Many and varied! Quantitative research, portfolio management, account management, financial advice, operations, trading, marketing…. Statistics is used everywhere in the finance industry and it will always be a valued skill set.
What would be your advice to our current PhD candidates, who may be early in their candidature or close to completion, on their preparation for an industry career?
I think it’s a really good idea to start connecting with industry participants. Talk to them about your studies and research. In this way you’ll be able start building a network but you’ll also hopefully get some great advice and feedback about how to make your research relevant to industry. If I had my time again I’d reach out to people in the industry and ask them if I could present my research to them. I think a lot of industry professionals would love to hear about the hot topics being researched!