Amanda Cain – John Lothian Profiles – Part One

An interview with amanda cain.
John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

In a recent interview with John Lothian Profiles, Amanda Cain shared her journey into the financial services industry and her experiences as a pioneering woman in the field. Cain’s entry into the industry began when she was invited to join the EDF Man Commodities Training Program, a move that she described as lucky and unexpected. She recalled a time when she was one of the few women in the industry, with limited female colleagues.

During her career, Cain underwent training in trading and hedging, and she joined a trading desk on the oilseeds side. After that business was sold by Man, she looked within the company for a new home and decided she wanted to work for an impressive new boss in the coffee division. However, when Cain met this Israeli man he said he did not hire people in the UK. Cain said, “OK, I will see you in the US.” When Cain showed up later at Man’s 120 Broadway offices, the coffee boss said, “What are you doing here?” She was shuffled to a desk in the corner, where she met Laura Moore. She stayed there for about three years, she said.

She was able to work the hedge fund desk and filled in on the cocoa and sugar desks. However, one of her biggest problems was that, because she was from London, she could not understand what was being said by the floor guys. She was sent down to the trading floor for three months to learn the vernacular and the accents. She said guys on the floor were very protective of her .

Later, she transitioned to a stint in Paris working on shipper arbitrage. She was mostly trading sugar arbitrage at the time, she said. However, she quickly learned that in order to move up in France, someone had to die, so she moved back to London.

Due to the numerous roadblocks she experienced on the trading side because of her gender and the related restrictions on her travel to South America, she decided to flip over to the sell side.

She began with two male partners. Her experience in the U.S. gave her an advantage in understanding the markets and the client’s needs. After gaining some significant clients, she joined Laura Moore and Mike Nugent as a partner in their group.

Cain highlighted the importance of mentors, including Ben Tagger and Ali Hackett, who taught her valuable lessons about seizing opportunities, maintaining high standards, and achieving success without leaving a trail of conflicts. Tagger told Cain never to say, “I don’t know.” Always say you will find out.

Hackett was a tough boss, but wise. There was no room for playing the woman card, Cain said. Hackett also taught Cain that one can achieve much “without leaving dead bodies in your wake,” Cain said.

She said she was good at following instructions and when a boss told her what she needed to do to be made a managing director, Cain put her mind to achieving it and did. She ended up being the fastest-made woman managing director at Citi.

As a woman in a male-dominated environment, Cain emphasized the need to navigate obstacles and challenges strategically. She said she learned to walk around the wall, not through it.

She mentioned an incident when she and a female colleague faced resistance when trying to move away from a male colleague and establish their own broking unit. Moore and Cain were led to a board room and told they would not get support for such a move because they were women.

Instead of pursuing legal action, they found a resolution with the help of some behind-the-scenes assistance. Cain’s approach was to focus on moving forward, even if it meant going around obstacles rather than through them.

Cain’s willingness to embrace change and continuously learn has been a driving force in her career. She stressed the importance of surrounding oneself with individuals possessing diverse skill sets.

Cain highlighted the need for equal pay and fair negotiation practices for women in the industry. She gave her company the opportunity to fix the problem. She describes herself as a bad negotiator, but worked on a solution to a complaint that needed to be resolved. Cain ended up with a favorable outcome, she said.

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