Heroes Work Here: Philippa-Lucy Robertson

11 March 2022

As part of our Heroes Work Here campaign, we have created a series of interviews to shine a light on some of our many Heroes here at ZEDRA!

ZEDRA Cayman’s General Counsel talks to us about how best you can feel part of the team while working remotely, being a ‘conjugate’ and the simple joy of a colour-coded to-do list.

With a role that involves coordinating communications across multiple jurisdictions, highly experienced funds professional and General Counsel Philippa-Lucy Robertson was nominated as a ZEDRA Hero for ‘routinely going above and beyond’ and ‘continually seeking to make improvements and contribute in areas outside her stated areas and responsibilities – all with a positive attitude’.

We spoke to Philippa to understand what drives her to make a difference, and why she feels we all have the ability to be – and create – heroes in our day to day roles.

What shaped your outlook in the early days of your career?

From the early days I had real support from my mentors. They helped form my career, consistently encouraged my growth and pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and I always knew they were behind me. When it comes to hiring people, I always try to embody what I had learned from my mentors; to foster a strong sense of confidence and self-belief in people, and instil a positive attitude, empowering them to ask questions, because that’s how people grow.

That has continued through my career, I have always felt supported by the people I’m surrounded with, and the confidence boost that gives you is immense. Hand on heart, I think the reason I’ve enjoyed it so much has been the people.

What have you learned about yourself through your career journey?

I’m genuinely passionate about what I do, and I feel lucky to be in a role where every day is different. It is challenging sometimes, but I thrive on that. I’m someone who is solution-focused, so I enjoy facing problems and working out how we’re going to solve them.

Also, I think I’m probably a bit of a control freak. I like being organised, whether that’s in my personal life or my professional life – I’m in meetings with my to-do list, and it’s colour coded. It used to make my former boss laugh, he said he could always tell what type of a day I’d had from the number of different colours of ink I had smudged on my face!

What were the challenges and opportunities for you – and how did you approach them?

Moving to work remotely in 2016 was a challenge at first, but it’s actually turned out to be an advantage. I work in two time zones, so I don’t have a strict bifurcation between my personal life and my professional life. I’m fortunate to love my job, but family life is everything to me and I can make both lives work quite well working from home, whereas if I was in an office and travelling a lot, I feel it would be a different ball game.

I work with great teams and really feel surrounded by them. My role spans the corporate team, the funds team and the trust team, so when I started working remotely, I learned to get on more video calls to keep that presence and visibility. I’m a people person, and a firm believer that you get passive success and passive positivity from the people around you. So, making the effort to put those video calls in the diary has helped me to feel very integrated notwithstanding the distance – there are new members of the team in Cayman that I haven’t met in person yet, but I feel as if I know them so well already, which is great.

What character qualities or values do you feel you’ve developed through that experience?

I think it’s about viewing challenges as opportunities to grow. Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are, and then learning to build on them. I still have to do things that I’m less comfortable with, but they get more and more comfortable each time I do them.

When I joined ZEDRA and moved from a smaller boutique firm to a 700-person multinational, I thought it would take more adjustment than it actually did. I’m based in the UK, so I get people from all jurisdictions reaching out – our Asian offices, our European offices and the Channel Islands. It’s really nice to get to know people in your own right and see how you can help and collaborate. It’s been a huge opportunity for me, because yes, I’m not in the same jurisdiction as my team, but I’m still able to collaborate with them effectively, and now also other ZEDRA office teams and have more face to face time as well when opportunities arise.

How do you use those qualities in your role at ZEDRA?

I’m the kind of person who prefers a really heartfelt card to a present. Someone recognising the effort and determination that goes into your role, and the passion you put into it, means more to me than most. I believe everyone should be appreciated, and know how valued they are. The people around me have made me who I am today, and helped me get to where I am in my career. To me it’s about paying it forward, telling someone ‘great job, well done’ or passing on praise from a client. I know how I’ve been supported and the benefit it has had for me, and I want to make sure others feel like that.

Is there a particular skill or gift that you have that you use to help others?

I think it’s the mix of being a people person and solution-driven. I like to help people solve problems, whether it’s a client issue or an internal one. I’m quick to suggest ideas, or to arrange a call and get a (colour-coded!) list in order of how to resolve it.

And if there’s something we can’t solve, then it’s about how we support it and manage it. For me, it’s about investing in people, and then understanding them. Talking through what the obligations are for us as a business and working out how we can divide them. Everyone should feel that we’re working towards our goals together.

Sometimes that takes thinking outside the box and finding a solution that works for everyone. One that respects individuals, not just professionally but also personally. Sometimes it’s a push-pull solution – yes it may push people a little, but there’s support behind them to help with that final nudge over the line.

If you had to name four qualities that you think a hero would display, what would they be?

Passion. Integrity. Determination. And the desire to always go above and beyond. It doesn’t matter how much you learn or where you get to, it always goes back to ZEDRA’s motto: ‘Do more, Achieve more’. It’s that idea of wherever you are, whatever team you’re in, you always need to learn, and you will always need to learn from everyone. And that’s on a personal level as well. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Know that everybody can do something, and nobody needs to do everything. And push boundaries. When I started, I was so nervous, I’d wake up in the middle of the night agonising about every email, and that anxiety of not having self-belief was really tough. I was lucky that I had a good support network around me to push me, and it grew from there. My advice to my younger self would be, believe in yourself. When I started out, I thought I’d get to a point when I knew everything, and that’s when I would be an expert. But now that I’m at this point in my career, I realise that I’ll always be learning, and actually that’s a great thing.

What would you say to colleagues who are just starting out on their own journey with ZEDRA?

Don’t compare your journey to others. Your journey is your own. You might get to the same place as others, but in different ways and you may take different paths to get to where you think you might go and end up somewhere completely unexpected. And that’s fine. Take opportunities. Be open-minded. Put yourself in situations where you’re exposed to a variety of things and learn what you like and make decisions accordingly.

Do you have a personal motto?

‘If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.’ Everyone is interconnected, no-one operates in isolation. At ZEDRA, every member of my team, junior or senior, plays a part in making what we do a success. We should all encourage and celebrate each other’s successes – whether clients, colleagues, friends or family – however big or small. Make sure you reach out. When we are valued, we perform better.

What do you feel most proud of in your career at ZEDRA?

I’m proud of the fact that I can look at my team and know that I’ve been instrumental in putting together a lot of the frameworks and initiatives we have. Being a building block in helping this company grow is one of the biggest things I’m proud of.

For me, it’s about making the business work but also ensuring our people are getting out of it what they need. I don’t put processes and procedures in place that are just focused on the business – they have to work for everyone and everyone has to be invested in them, because if people aren’t invested, they won’t engage. Everyone should have a voice, so it’s about making sure of that and putting together a solution that ensures everyone is happy, working towards the same goal and making the best of themselves in doing so.

What are five words or phrases that you feel describe what you bring to ZEDRA life?

I like to bring everything together, so I guess I’m a ‘conjugate’. Then passion, enthusiasm, drive and being forward-thinking.

What do you hope people will gain from reading your story?

That everyone is a hero in their own way. People make ZEDRA and people make heroes. You don’t just become a hero on your own by working hard, it’s the people around you that help make you what you are and who you are.