My name is Catherine Isabelle Cax and I work as a Director of Investments at the Open Society Foundation and the Soros Economic Development Fund
What have been the challenges and discoveries of the lockdown What have been the challenges and discoveries of the lockdown period?
From a work perspective: staying motivated and also motivating a team as a leader is more challenging than when you can see people in real life. I work for an organisation which has its headquarters in New York and offices around the world. We’re very much used to working from behind the screen and networking in that setting. The question has been, should you increase the frequency of meetings? That’s worked for some people, while others have found it a burden. In terms of being a leader you really have to navigate unknown waters. But again, I think it’s also brought us closer together in terms of working together.
What are your hopes and visions for social finance, in light of the pandemic and other recent events?
I think the pandemic has demonstrated a need for social finance to really focus on economic injustice. We’ve seen, for example from a healthcare perspective, that in many healthcare systems around the world, where people don’t have access they’ve not been able to cope. These inequalities have really been highlighted during the pandemic.
And racial injustice too… I think that a way to tackle that from the social finance perspective is to ask: “How can we go in and try to create real systemic change?”
What does Women in Social Finance mean to you?
I moved to London as a foreigner even though I’ve been working in social finance for 15 years. Therefore, having the opportunity to join a network of women from very different backgrounds (so, financial backgrounds with more of an environmental, social and governance (ESG) focus, where a panoply of qualifications required) is very attractive.
From a work perspective: keeping each other up-to-date with what is going on, what our take is on where social finance should go in the future etc. To have those discussions gives me a lot of perspective.
On the personal front, when the pandemic is over, when lockdown has eased up, we can join each other for summer cocktails and Christmas celebrations and really move from just professional relationships to include friendships too.
What item or items have helped get you through lockdown?
These are very traditional-looking trainers but they gave me a lot of joy during the pandemic. I haven’t really been running for the past 10 years, only very sporadically. But I have managed to go every other day and do a run of 3-4 km and this gave me the energy to be a better member of the family, and to better motivate my team.
It’s something that’s going to stick and it’s not going to end here. It was a good booster!