How did you decide what you wanted to be when you grew up? Some of us are still trying to decide. Things don’t always go as planned, especially when it comes to our careers. Whether we were looking to get promoted, change jobs, or transition into a new role — being curious and taking risks is part of growing professionally. For this podcast, Robyn Shepherd, Partner and Head of Corporate Engagement at Bridgewater Associates tells us about her risk-taking experiences and making her voice heard. She also tells us about how to ask for the help you need to succeed.
Robyn grew up with an exposure to a great education but lacked awareness for the vast possibilities it could take her in her career. As she grew in her professional life, she understood that she needed to prepare to seize the moment when opportunities unexpectedly came her way. She feels it is as important to know what you don’t want to do as it is to know what you do want to do and be aware of what you’re passionate about. Success involves building great professional relationships and the best way to make those connections is being authentic–something Robyn is known for. Her positive energy will lift you up and give you ideas on how to take a new path at work.
[02:22] Robyn’s journey
[10:10] Stepping into new opportunities with courage
[13:28] How to make important decisions
[16:25] Creating opportunities and forging your own path
[19:22] How to locate the decision makers
[21:45] Making sure your voice is heard
[24:15] Habits and hacks for think time
[26:09] The importance of realizing what you don’t want to or can’t do
[30:18] The vital role of community, advocates, and mentees
[35:29] Asking for help
[40:21] Looking for an advocate
[43:42] Being authentic about building professional relationships
[45:58] Lightning round questions
“When you don’t know what you want to do, do the hardest thing you can so that you’re set up when opportunity comes knocking.” – Robyn Shepherd
“Preparing for the worst isn’t the only thing, it’s also about imagining the opportunity.” – Robyn Shepherd
“Saying yes to something means you are saying no to something else.” – Robyn Shepherd
Lightning Round Questions
- “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday
- “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” - Epictetus, Greek Stoic Philosopher
- When my kids get home from school, I do everything I can to not be working and having half-hours of transition.
- “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa
What book has greatly influenced you?
What is your favorite inspiring quote or saying?
What is one word or moniker you would use to describe yourself?
What is one change you've implanted that made your life better?
What power song would you want playing as you walk out onto a stage?
Robyn Shepherd joined Bridgewater Associates in 2004 and is currently the Head of Corporate Engagement. Reporting to the CEO, Robyn oversees the firm’s public affairs, communications and branding functions, as well as the company’s initiatives for operational sustainability, social responsibility, and plays a leading role in Bridgewater’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts. She is a Partner of the firm and a member of the Operating Committee and Commercial and Business Strategy Committee.
Robyn began her career at Bridgewater as a Senior Investment Associate in the Account Management group and later took on other key roles within the firm’s Client Service and Marketing team — first as an Associate Client Advisor covering the firm’s international client and marketing relationships, and later as the Head of Client Service Analytics. Subsequently, Robyn served as Chief of Staff to CEO David McCormick, partnering with him on the firm’s strategic agenda, business oversight, management of the Client Service and Marketing department, and corporate governance.
Robyn was a founding member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, and the Co-Founder and Senior Sponsor of Bridgewater’s Women’s Influence Network (WIN). She was recognized by The Hedge Fund Journal as one of the “50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds” in 2020, and was named the 2021 “Women of Excellence: Trailblazer” by Seramount, in partnership with Working Mother and the National Association for Female Executives.
Before joining Bridgewater, Robyn was an Analyst at Lime Rock Partners and an Investment Analyst at HarbourVest Partners. She serves on the boards of Susan G. Komen and Oakland Catholic High School, an all-women’s college preparatory school in Pittsburgh, PA. Robyn received her BA in economics from Brown University.