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It’s Time for Girl Power in Finance!

My Interview with Finance Wonder Woman Renee Haugerud

As a girl aspiring to have a career in finance, it’s not easy to find mentors and role models. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and interview Renee Haugerud. Renee is a pioneer and force in the field of finance. Her resume is extremely impressive, but after speaking with Renee, it’s her passion and commitment to girls that stood out to me.

The daughter of a sheriff, Renee lived from ages 3-12 in the residence side of a jail in Minnesota. Renee also spent time on a family farm as a child, and as a result, she was able to transfer her knowledge into trading grains and commodities for Cargill, a privately held food corporation. She later became one of the first women to found her own hedge fund firm. Her fund is named Galtere, meaning “pragmatic simplicity.” Galtere has had as much as 2.4 billion dollars under management.

Renee is an active advocate for women and girls, and has dedicated herself to educating and empowering females to have equal opportunity, access, and compensation in the world of finance. You can read more about Renee’s bio here. 

Below are the specific questions that I asked Renee:

  1. Why were you inspired to enter finance? 

Renee Haugerud did not enter finance in a typical manner. She revealed, “I got in it through a backdoor.” She stated, “I got inspired to get into finance through my commodity trading business and I haven’t looked back since….What inspires me is being able to buy and sell value.” Renee further explained, “Because I got my start trading physical commodities when I transitioned into finance, I approached financial markets, currencies, bonds, equities much like I did commodities.”

  1. How did you get your career started in finance?

Renee explained, “when [Cargill] started their financial division and needed traders, instead of hiring bankers and financial professionals, they took their entrepreneurial grain traders, coffee traders, cocoa traders, commodities traders and put us in the finance department to start up the financial trading division.”

  1. Describe a time you encountered a challenge, and how did you overcome it? 

As a woman, Renee struggled with the challenge of “getting capital allocated to [her]”.   Renee met this challenge with “persistence,” stating that she “didn’t take it personally or let it discourage her “ She still admits, “I didn’t really overcome it,” and “had my gender been Renee L. Haugerud male instead of Renee L. Haugerud female, I’m pretty convinced instead of hitting my top AUM (asset under management) of 2.4 billion, it would have been at least 10 billion.” Renee believes that “women and girls need to start supporting women and girls” (“not to the exclusion of men”)

  1. What advice would you give to people when it comes to their personal finances? 

Renee advised: “Don’t do anything you don’t understand…When you are young, people will tell you to start saving and put money away, but don’t put money away if you are in debt. Invest in yourself, upgrade your education or learn a new language or new skills…balance that debt and investment…and start putting money away, budgeting for retirement very early but not borrowing money to gamble to do it.” Renee encouraged “mitigating risk” and explained that you are “never going to be able to invest again if you do not have preservation of capital.”

  1. At the end of the day, what makes a good investment? 

In defining a good investment, Renee stated, “You would think a good investment is one that only makes a good return on your investment/money. But I would argue that a good investment is also one that has a good risk-reward and that you may lose a little bit of money or break even by buying that investment at a good valuation.” She continued to explain, “If you have an investment with 10x upside and a 1x downside, and you can find a good way to control risk, it is better if you break even on that investment, or lose one X, than if you have an investment that could make 10 or lose 10.”

Bonus question: 

What would like to say to young girls like myself that love finance and want to make it their career one day? 

Renee believes strongly that women should “make our own money,” “demand equal wages,” and manifest “girl power!” 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have met and interviewed Renee.  After the interview, she followed up with me and offered to send me a few books that might be helpful. Renee is an incredible mentor, and I know that her advice will inspire other young people, especially girls!

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