Featured Profile: Jodie Hampshire
The mindful way
It might be easy to look at Jodie Hampshire, Russell Investments Australia managing director, and wonder how she does it all. She's leader of a $23 billion business, mum to four children, grandmother to one, has written a book and is working on another. She spoke to Elizabeth McArthur about how she does it all, mindfully.

Last year, Jodie Hampshire would meditate while sitting on the bus on her way to work.

The routine started when she was recovering from cancer treatment. She read that meditation could have physical benefits and even help a person's immune system so she downloaded a meditation app on her phone.

Having a career plan is a nice thing but it's almost a waste of time because your career is not going to go in the sequence you expect it to.
Hampshire felt benefits from this morning mindfulness, but she still found herself in a doctor's office towards the end of the year, feeling burnt out.

The doctor told her the app on the bus wasn't going to cut it and prescribed a visit to a meditation studio to sit and meditate with no distractions.

Now, she goes to a meditation studio about once a week for just half an hour of meditation - and she says this simple change to her routine has been truly transformative.

"Meditating is helping me in so many ways. I want to understand the science behind it; I want to understand how I can teach it to other stressed out professional people," Hampshire says.

Hampshire describes herself as a reformed workaholic, saying that in a way life forced her to be a little more mindful.

"When you have something like cancer it makes you very focused on living in the present," she says.

"I think financial types are very intelligent, all our jobs are based in the mind - we spend a lot of time in our head rather than in our body."

Being diagnosed with  cancer made her live in her body and in the present more than she ever had, she says.

"People always say that as they get older they realise that life is short. I think having a serious illness at a young age gives you the blessing of that knowledge early and it changes your approach to life," she says.

Now Hampshire is studying meditation and working on a book that might help other professionals on the edge of burn out.

It'll be her second book, Hampshire published Lionheart: The real life guide for adoptive families in 2017 with her husband and some close friends.

The book draws on her experiences adopting three children from Sierra Leone.

"It was hard to find the time to write the book. I have a busy job and I travel a lot," Hampshire says.

"When you do something like write a book you realise how much time you waste watching silly TV shows or scrolling through Instagram."

The book has been widely read by adoptive families and takes a plain-speaking approach to explaining complex topics, like the impact of trauma on children's growing brains.

"It was lovely to write the book, it was like free therapy. But it was emotionally draining to re-live the experiences we had," Hampshire admits.

Hampshire and her husband started their family in Dubai, and while they were living there Hampshire started a children's clothing business - something a world away from her career now at Russell.

She says the clothing business was fun, but after the Global Financial Crisis when she and her husband, an investment banker, returned to Australia it was more prudent for Hampshire with her experience in product development to be the one who returned to the finance industry.

Stepping back into the workforce, Hampshire experienced the daunting reality many women face after taking time to raise a family.

"I remember interviewing for my job with Mercer when I was returning to work. My baby was only nine months old and I remember that morning trying to find some clothes that fit me that looked semi-professional," she says.

"I hadn't worked for six years and I'd had a baby in that time. I felt like a bit of a hot mess that day."

But, Hampshire got that job with Mercer.

"I do remember coming back to work that first day and feeling like I'd lost it, like everyone was talking to fast and I couldn't keep up," Hampshire admits.

"But within a day or two I'd picked it all back up. It's like riding a bike."

Now, in her role leading Russell Investments Australia, Hampshire has a vision for the future of investing.

Russell is developing a personalised superannuation offering and rolling out increasingly customised investment offerings.

"My hope for the future is that we deliver better outcomes for Australians," Hampshire says.

"That involves giving people the ability to personalise investments in the way that they experience personalisation through other technology like Netflix."

And, given her life experience, Hampshire understands that you don't have to force people to make work their entire life in order to get the best outcomes from them.

She says her team at Russell is full of fitness fanatics and that she always wants to cultivate a workplace where people are mindful of the fact that everyone has a life outside of work.

"I want my team to feel like they can always be straightforward and transparent about their broader life beyond work," she says.

With an eldest child who is 24 and a youngest who is eight, Hampshire is understandably pulled in several directions.

She picks up her youngest from school whenever she can and takes her for ice cream, the kind of thing she understands is important in the big picture.

Hampshire jokes that none of her children wanted anything to do with the world of finance until there was recently a glimmer of hope in her youngest.

"My youngest recently asked me a question about the share market and what I do and I had a chance to teach her about compound interest and it was like the best parenting moment of my life," she says.

"So now every time she has a bit of money I say to her, do you want me to invest that for you?"

When it comes to career advice, Hampshire says: "If I can be successful in finance anyone can be."

This is because she had no examples around her of people with the kind of career that she has now.

"I would also encourage people to be quite open to taking a bit of risk with their career," Hampshire shares.

"Having a career plan is a nice thing but it's almost a waste of time because your career is not going to go in the sequence you expect it to."

She also says it's OK to move sideways in a career, and points to her time in London setting up Russell's product division as an unexpected grounding for leadership.

Now, Hampshire is focused on giving others the kinds of opportunity she has. She works with a charity called One Girl Foundation and through the Do It In A Dress initiative helps raise funds for washrooms in schools in Sierra Leone so girls can stay in school for longer.

She also wants to see her team at Russell flourish.

"My hopes are that I keep coaching my team to become the next leaders at Russell. My intention is to work my way out of a job by having good people around me," she says.

"I want to keep working on living my life in the present and being in my body as well as my mind and bringing my whole self to work and having a lot of fun at work."

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