The post-COVID world, with Capital’s Night Watch
February 8, 2021
American Funds video transcript: “Women in investing: A 45-year success story”
Michael Utley: You joined at a time when there were very few women in this business. How has the role of women in investing changed over your four decades in this business?
Claudia Huntington: I was fortunate at Capital that I never experienced any of the issues that I think other women may have. I've spoken to some of my female colleagues, and they agree with me — it's not just me saying this — I think we have a culture at Capital is very, very wonderful for women. And that was the case when I started. The only time that was kind of unusual for me was, early on, there would be meetings at a local private club that brokers would have companies in. And we'd go, as analysts, go to the meeting. One of these was male-only, and so to get to the meeting on the second floor, I had to go in the back door, up the back stairs and into the meeting room. And Marge Fisher was managing at the time as well, and she finally put down her foot and said, "If you want Capital to come to these meetings, you can't have them at this place anymore."
Michael Utley: Very nice.
Claudia Huntington: Yeah. And eventually it admitted women. And actually, I'm a member, so I can walk through the front door now and I feel good about that. But the main changes is, we do have more women colleagues.
Michael Utley: Sure. Many, many more.
Claudia Huntington: Many more. And we have always had a culture of having very diverse opinions, and you get diversity of opinions in many respects. So, we’ve put an emphasis on that, and it's working. I think we were always interested in growing our diversity mix. We always have; we always will. And so, we need to keep working on that. But early on, it's sort of like being an apple in a bowl of oranges. There were times when it was actually an advantage, because often I would be the only woman in the room meeting with company managements. And so, if you raise your hand maybe they'll call on you instead of calling on one of the guys. So, I never actually experienced issues that would keep me from doing my job since I've been at Capital.
Michael Utley: Right, right. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your career 45 years ago?
Claudia Huntington: How important management is. I keep coming back to that, but it's true. What I've learned over time is how important it is to look at a company in terms of the continuum of its history. The younger I was, the more I thought that one or two years of history was all I really needed to be able to say, “Here's this company. Here's what it does. Here's why I'm interested in it. And by the way, a couple years ago it was doing this.” But the more time I spent investing, the more I realized the importance of understanding where it was 10 years ago — in some cases 20 years ago — how it got to where it is now and where it could be 10 years from now. In part, that's because when you're younger, a couple years is a bigger deal, and when you're my age, a couple years is not much.
Michael Utley: Right.
Claudia Huntington: But also, a number of these companies really do have an interesting continuum to them. If you understand that, you're going to understand a lot better how the management might change, how the strategy might change, how the company has adapted, if it's adapted — maybe it hasn't adapted, in which case how are you sure it could adapt in the future? So, having that long-time, long-term continuum is something I wish I'd done more of as a younger analyst.
Michael Utley: If you were talking to a group of young people who would someday like to be a successful investor, someday like to follow in your footsteps, is there any advice you would give them on how to pursue that career path?
Claudia Huntington: Well, I would tell them to be courageous. I would tell them to be curious. I would tell them to learn how to listen. I would tell them to think strategically, to plan to work very hard and to be willing to ask questions. If you don't know something, figure it out; ask a question. Somebody's going to help you with that, whether it's the company you're talking to, whether it's your colleagues. We have such a collaborative environment at Capital, and I learn a great deal about a lot of things by talking to my colleagues. And when you're starting out, there's even more you can learn from your colleagues. And put yourself into a culture in which you can learn from others, instead of having to be on your own island and going it alone.
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