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Women on Top in Tech – Nicole Sturgill, Principal Executive Advisor of CEB



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Nicole Sturgill, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB.


What makes you do what you do?

I’ve worked in Financial Services for over 20 years and have been given tremendous opportunities to learn. My work at CEB allows me to pull those experiences together and to also explore new areas. What gets me excited is the psychology behind financial management. How people think about money and how that impacts how they do business with their bank is a fascinating subject and I’m fortunate to be able to research some aspect of that every day.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

Defining what “rise” means to me personally has been very important. I worked at Fifth Third Bank for almost 10 years before moving to London where my husband was attending graduate school. We sold our house, quit our jobs and moved to the UK, not knowing exactly where that path would lead but knowing that living in another country, experiencing many cultures and traveling were important to us. Relatively quickly I began working for Transoft, which provided the software for one of the areas I managed at the bank. That illustrated the power of the network very clearly. For Transoft, I worked from home and traveled throughout Europe, helping me see that it was possible to combine the work I love with a life I could enjoy.

When we moved back to the U.S., I knew that flexibility and travel were just as important to me as the content of my work. My role at CEB has given me opportunities to develop skills and knowledge and has allowed me to travel and work from a place I love, first in New York and now in New Orleans.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

What’s the purpose of taking any role if it’s not a stretch? Growth is important, skill development can always be better and we always benefit from more knowledge. The best roles are those in which one can use the skills developed over time and combine them with new goals that one has never tackled before.

My current role, specifically, is constantly changing. Financial services technology is getting better every day and the challenges that banks face are always evolving. Helping banks and technology providers assess their problems and identify solutions requires me to constantly gain new knowledge and think creatively.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

I feel lucky to have a strong network of professional support – individuals from the companies I’ve previously worked for, at CEB and within the industry. Plus I have great friends from a master’s program I completed at Columbia University a couple of years ago. They are outside my company and my field and give me an objective view. I firmly believe that gaining input from many sources is important to seeing the world, and our options, from a fresh perspective. We still have to make our own decisions but you can never have too much information from people you trust.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

My role as an executive advisor at CEB, working primarily with our members, means that I get to work with CEB’s research teams for both our financial institutions and our technology providers, but in more of a collaborative role than a direct management role. Financial services aren’t the easiest industry to learn. How a bank operates isn’t particularly intuitive. A lot has to happen behind the scenes requiring knowledge of bank processes and technology. When I’m working with someone new to the industry, I try to relate banking knowledge to an individual’s own experience of making deposits, getting cash, making payments or buying a car. The more we can personalize teaching and use stories to illustrate the need for financial services, the faster it makes sense in the context of our research.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I hope that I’m supporting diversity unconsciously but for fear of complacency, I can’t assume that I do. CEB has a number of internal programs that support diversity and inclusion but we’re all responsible for learning from the differences we each bring to the table. We have to ask questions of one another to make sure we are gaining unique perspectives and that is true in how we work with colleagues, clients and other business partners.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

Leaders in retail banking are the ones that are working to help customers better manage their finances and help them understand that how they think about money – and the way to reach their financial goals – can impact how they save and spend. While some may gain accolades for increasing their share price in the short term, only those that take the time to understand and develop products and services that meet customer need are long-term leaders in financial services.

If I had to name one quality that a leader has to have, I’d say it’s empathy. It’s not easy to put yourself in another’s position, especially when there are vast differences in things like personal beliefs, lifestyles and education – but it’s worth it. A leader often has to make big decisions and understanding the positions of those affected are critical to making choices that uplift rather than discourage.

Advice for others?

As we head into 2017, challenges in financial services abound. Keeping the needs of both the banked and unbanked front and center will help all of us make business decisions and technology choices that  help customers manage their finances and, in turn, help the bank gain trust in the eyes of consumers.

To learn more about CEB, please see

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
AMPLIFY Conscious Business Leadership with me.


“When Adam Draper does Crypto Standup, Singapore listens”



I live and work in Singapore and Santa Monica. Yes, I am blessed. However, my life has been by design, I think of what I want and so I make my life choices and make them happen in my life. Hence the bi-continent living and that comes with bi-continent and now global community living, being and ecosystems building. So I am now never surprised when one part of my world meets another.

I went to Wavemaker Partners venture capital event this evening, keen to meet Adam Draper, who is one of the many great presenters at Crypto Invest Summit, April 30- May 2 in Los Angeles.

Since I actively support leaders who are building scalable, sustainable businesses and movements for the betterment of many; of course I am learning about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. I had been keen to report on the Crypto Invest Summit as I would be back in May to LA for my PhD programme. I was in communications with the organizers. However, I am being awarded an award at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi that same week and could not be physically present.

Still I wanted to report on the event, somehow.

I wanted to listen to the speakers and support some of the speakers who are already friends and experts I rely on for greater insights on cryptocurrency. I like learning and sharing with the greater audience, I have in Asia what I am learning from the US and vice versa. So I feel I had my chance tonight to do a bit of that.

I could not help but smile as Adam Draper shed light into his world of investing in more than 85 crypto related products because he was such a breath of fresh air to the last few Blockchain and Financial conferences I have been reporting on; especially here in Asia.

He just says it like it is.

He kept stopping the audience when they said Blockchain and he said, “You know you really mean cryptocurrency.”  He hit the nail on the head because I have seen so clearly how this phrase had been said in Singapore time and again – “I am not into cryptocurrency but I believe in Blockchain.”

When he said how there was an incongruity as he sat across bankers who personally invested in cryptocurrency and when faced with an inbound of requests from their clients on the same investment; are tied by regulations and are unable to respond.

Here’s some of his best lines. If you don’t laugh or “ah-ha” the way I did, you probably just had to be there. The truth is funny because it calls out for something we all see but sometimes just do not want to admit.

There is a growing understanding of the underlying thematics that the cryptocurrency world has been experiencing as the interface between centralize; de-centralize and personal autonomy becomes more and more apparent and lines get drawn.

Adam Says:

1) The newest phenomenon is that some of the ICO founders are now just so rich from their ICOs that they really don’t need to work on the project they asked for money for.

2) For the crypto-world, money doesn’t matter anymore!
They need talent

It’s so founder friendly now.

3) What Bitcoin made us ask is “What is money?”

The next question is “What is government and governance?”

He highlighted if an entrepreneur is looking for a problem to solve., then the entrepreneur is always looking for horrible industries with poor services and high costs. So yes – Governments are those horrible industries and they need to be disrupted.

4)  Any company who comes to an investor and leads with how much ICO has raised; is a red flag. Leave immediately and go read a Harry Potter book instead.
If they are leading with value and not the problem they are solving. Beware. (read more here

5) If you are going to invest in where the brains are. It’s in crypto.

6) Philosophically, Coinbase is against ethos of what Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movement is trying to do. However to do such a move from fiat to digital currency, there would need a way to do that. So Coinbase acts like a browser does for internet. One day there will be no need to cash in or out as everyone is already there on digital. Cryptocurrency is the exchange of value. His advice and we know his bias as he is invested in  Coinhako; is to hold onto an exchange for 3-5 years since onboarding of all users to the new digital currency will take some time.

Adam met with many banks and government bodies on his trip to Singapore – I hope they got his truths.

I ended the night by thanking Adam for making me laugh. He reminded me of how much I miss LA.

Want more of this?

If you are in LA on April 30 – May 2.



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Callum Connects

Adrian Reid, Founder of Enlightened Stock Trading



Adrian Reid escaped the rat race and became a knowledgeable trader. He now shares his trading knowledge and empowers others to take control of their stocks.

What’s your story?
After working 12-16 hour days in the corporate world for many years I had a moment of realisation on the 1 hour bus ride to work. It was here at this moment in time, I realised that I felt trapped, desperate and isolated. Trapped in a job I hated, and a life I had not designed. I had long been interested in investing, but I made the decision at that point to become the best trader I could possibly be and escape the rat race.
My dream was to be free; free of the 9 to 5, the commute, the stress and the exhaustion. I threw myself into my stock trading research and study and emerged 3 months later with the trading rules that would ultimately buy me my freedom. I am now retired from the corporate world, I trade full time and share my knowledge with other aspiring traders through my online education program which puts them in control and empowers them to take control and accountability for their trading results.

What excites you most about your industry?
So many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like or are feeling immense financial pressure in their life. Trading education is typically done extremely badly today because of the conflicts of interest in the industry. Fund managers want to hold onto your money forever; brokers want you to trade more frequently; forex brokers want you to use more leverage. Why? Because that is how they make their money.
By teaching traders how to develop and test their own stock trading systems I am able to empower them to find trading rules which fit their own personality, objectives and lifestyle. This is the only way for new traders to be successful. This process transforms people’s financial future, their relationship with money and wealth and gives them hope. I love that!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I recently spent 3 years living in Singapore which I absolutely loved. This put me in a good position to observe the other Asian markets. As a stock trader I am interested in many markets and economies around the world, however the Asian markets have some of the best potential for trading profits. I have traded stocks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo and I have developed trading systems that work in many other Asian markets as well.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city is Singapore. After living in Singapore for 3 years my family fell in love with the city. Life is great in Singapore for the whole family and the pro-business and investing policies of the government make it a wonderful place to build your financial future as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
On a personal front: Find something you love, throw all your energy and passion into it.
On the wealth front: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Take control of your finances and always accept 100% responsibility for your investment decisions.

Who inspires you?
My wife Stephanie inspires me. Her commitment to everything she does, her compassion, her insights into people and her ability to uplift those around her, make me want to be a better person.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
No matter what we think we know, there will always be a different perspective that can change our opinion. In my own trading, I continually find that the truths I cling to are not absolute and they can be misleading if held onto dogmatically. Striking a balance between taking a stance and knowing when to change that stance based on new information is critical in all areas of life.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more action earlier on. My fear of mistakes (which still limits me on occasions, like most people) has always proven to be baseless. Playing small to avoid the embarrassment or pain of mistakes is very limiting and I would have taken more action earlier, if I had my time again.

How do you unwind?
To unwind I like to read, meditate, run and ride my mountain bike in the forest.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I just love the small island resort at Batu Batu. It is beautiful, isolated, quiet and surrounded by clean water, full of sealife. After a week at the resort I felt like a different person.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. This book teaches the art of clear and structured communication. My time working as a business strategy consultant gave me a great appreciation for the importance of communication in business. Clear and effective communication can solve a myriad of challenges in your business and professional life, and as a strong communicator your employment prospects, business relationships, team performance and family life are all dramatically improved.

Shameless plug for your business:
Enlightened Stock Trading ( is the only stock market trading education business that empowers you, as an individual trader. It shows you how to design and test your own unique stock trading system that fits YOUR Personality, Objectives and Lifestyle. We have no conflicts of interest and we are focused on teaching you how to trade stocks profitably in a way that fits your life.
After working through the Enlightened Stock Trader Certification Program you will find yourself confident and empowered with your own battle tested trading system and trading plan to guide you through the markets.

How can people connect with you?
Email me directly at [email protected] or through my Facebook Page (

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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