Brilliant shares her passion for the individual investor, her attitude toward risk, and her love for the great outdoors.
- By May 01, 2017
- Private Equity
“Investing is a scary area for most people. I’m really passionate about helping investors make better decisions.”
To be an effective CEO, you need a mission and a vision that inspire your team. You need to set the course for your company. You have to communicate that mission effectively to your team, and then help them feel connected to it. It’s also important to interact with your team on a collegial level—to work side by side and build camaraderie, so people feel comfortable to come to you when they have a challenge to overcome. At Morningstar, we have an egalitarian culture. Every single person—including me in Australia and our CEO in the United States—has an open-floor-plan desk. There are no offices. This communicates to employees that we’re all in this together.
To unwind, I love hiking. There are great areas to go hiking or bushwalking around Sydney. I go with friends, my family, or by myself. My best ideas come when I can step back from the day’s issues and think abstractly, and hiking gives me that opportunity. Also, the pure joy of my kids when they’re on a hike instills pure joy in me.
I studied Latin American history while at Northwestern and had Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru on my list for a long time. It was a powerful experience to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which takes four days. Arriving at sunrise, it really felt like we were rediscovering Machu Picchu. The way that trip combined history, hiking, and natural beauty was magical.
In my first decade or so working in financial services, I noticed there were few women, but it didn’t really bother me. I grew up with two brothers, was on the debate team in college—a very male-dominated activity—and believed anyone who worked hard could advance in any career they chose. My perceptions on this topic have changed over the last several years. I have gained a strong appreciation for the value of diversity and the ability of diverse teams to make better decisions, and I do think unconscious bias is a real issue, so I have become an advocate for ensuring women are well represented in the financial services industry.
I took a career survey after graduating from Northwestern: my most likely career path was CEO. But you can’t exactly just be a CEO. So I developed an expertise in equity research, which I loved. I thought it was honestly the most exciting and exhilarating career. I chose the Evening MBA Program because I was looking to extend my existing career of equity research, but also to be able to leverage those skills and develop new opportunities in leadership.
I love my job. I feel lucky to work with a fantastic group of people who are excited about what we’re trying to do as a company and really want to put in the effort required to get to a good result.