Shining at Your First Job with Hartford Funds Relationship Manager Gina Lombardi

Gina Lombardi is a Relationship Manager for Hartford Funds. She is responsible for supporting initiatives to develop and strengthen relationships with Hartford Funds’ largest broker-dealer clients.

Here is what Gina had to say when we asked her about shining at your first job:

GenHERation®: What are three best practices for shining at your first job?

Gina Lombardi: One, work to establish a strong relationship and communication channel with your manager. Gain an understanding of how your boss likes to communicate and how regularly he or she would like to meet with you. I’ve found that it is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Think about requesting a scheduled one-on-one meeting with your boss on a regular basis to give you an opportunity to touch base and provide updates on important matters. Having these conversations will allow you to have open communication with your boss, which enables you to become a more effective team member and learner. 

Two, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions when you first start out in a role. No question is too silly or small, and no one will think you have no clue what you’re doing if you don’t know something. You are not expected to know everything when you are new to an organization. There is a learning curve! The only way you will grow as a professional is by being able to ask questions to the people around you. 

Lastly and very importantly, say yes to everything! Raise your hand as often as you can for as many things that come your way—projects, initiatives, working groups! This is how you will learn and grow both professionally and personally. Regardless of your background, degree, level of knowledge, and experience, don’t overlook the little tasks or projects. Remember that success comes from doing a lot of little things really well, and those “little” things will amount to something bigger for you in the long term. You should value all of the experience you can get at an organization, so raise your hand and take on as much as you can. You should never think of anything as outside of your job description in those early years.

GenHERation®: What should you do to prepare for team meetings?

Lombardi: Before every meeting, you should be able to answer these questions: What is the purpose of the meeting? What are the agenda items that we will be covering? What is my role? Is there anything specific I should come ready to address in the meeting? Once you can answer these questions, prepare talking points that will add value to the meeting’s discussion. When it’s your turn to lead a meeting, share an agenda with those who will be attending. Open the meeting by providing any necessary background on the topic you’re discussing—why you’ve called the meeting, what the purpose is, what you intend to cover in the discussion, and the goals. Before the meeting ends, summarize the most important highlights from the meeting discussion and what the next steps will be for you and the team. 

GenHERation®: How should you build your network at work?

Lombardi: Wrap your arms around the entire organization. Don’t just focus on getting to know the people in your immediate group or department. If you work in strategy, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in engineering, sales, or finance. Identify leaders in your organization who you admire—perhaps they have the job you want to have in 10 years, or maybe you heard someone senior speak on a call or in a meeting and you liked what they said or you have questions. Have the courage to knock on that person’s office door and ask if you can spend some time with them, learning about their background or how they got to where they are in the organization. One idea is to invite someone for coffee or lunch in exchange for learning more about his or her work. When individuals are young and new to organizations they are often intimidated by those higher up in the organizational chart, so they don’t reach out to these professionals. Senior level executives are more than happy to give you their time (they were in your position once), so include them as you build your network. If you admire someone who has 20 years of experience, connect! Ask if you can sit in his or her office for a few minutes, or if you can treat him or her to coffee. Good organizations encourage this type of mentorship, so if you’re in the right place, learn from as many individuals as you can to increase your industry knowledge.   

GenHERation®: How can you stay up to date with your industry’s trends?

Lombardi: Read as much as you can! Read every piece of intellectual capital published by your company on topics pertaining to your role, your clients, and your industry. Read the news and subscribe to publications specific to your industry. For me, I subscribe to many asset management news sites and industry blogs. You can sign up for industry listservs or publications and have the news sent right to your inbox every morning. Another great way to be more knowledgeable about your industry is to leverage the power of your community. Ask your co-workers how the market looks or about what trends they’ve been observing. In addition to this internal insight, connect with individuals who are in your same role at other companies. Become friends with your competitors. They can be a great source of information and you both can have something to offer each other in terms of perspective. For instance, if you work in operations at Company A, reach out to someone in operations at Company B. You can also join industry-specific professional organizations, such as Women In Investing, so you have more structured opportunities to engage with experts. Additionally, think about attending as many industry conferences as possible. 

GenHERation®: What is your best tip for maximizing your daily productivity?

Lombardi: I love lists! At the end of every day, I write out a list of what I need to get done for the next day. This helps me stay on track and recognize what is most important. When I make lists, I put what I think are the three most important things I need to get done for the next day to be productive, and when it comes time to tackle my tasks, I start first thing in the morning. Fire drills do come up throughout the day, which you need to tend to, so sometimes you might not accomplish everything on your list. However, if you have priorities for the day, you know what to come back to after you’re done putting out the fires. Email and technology can also be a big distraction. I know my least productive days are when I look at every single email the moment it comes in. Be intentional and dedicate specific time to checking your email, but then time block and focus on the tasks you need to get done.

GenHERation®: What do you wish you knew on the first day of your first job?

Lombardi: Eight years into my career, my boss at the time gave me great advice in response to a challenging client project that I was working on. I felt very overwhelmed and was so afraid to fail. My boss said to me, “Gina, if you want to make an omelet, sometimes, you’ve got to break some eggs.” I took that to mean that if you want to have success, sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. Maybe things won’t go your way immediately, maybe you won’t have all the answers, maybe you’ll get a few things wrong along the way, but nothing happens if you don’t try. Sometimes, you learn the most from the experiences where you fail. Maybe it goes wrong the first time, but very right the second time. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just do the best you can, work hard, keep your head up, make some noise, and be honest and true to yourself and those around you, and good things will come to you. Lastly, have fun! Life is too short not to have fun with your job!

Gina Lombardi is a Relationship Manager for Hartford Funds. She is responsible for supporting initiatives to develop and strengthen relationships with Hartford Funds’ largest broker-dealer clients. Gina joined the organization in 2017. Prior to joining the company, she worked at Cohen & Steers as a Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager from 2014-2017. She began her career in 2005 at Lord Abbett & Co. as an Internal Wholesaler and transitioned to a role in Relationship Management in 2008. Gina is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors and is FINRA Series 7 and 63 registered. Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Gina attended Villanova University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and International Business. She currently lives in Westfield, New Jersey, with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Francesca.

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