Terry Nilsen of Hennessy Advisors wins Women in Business Award
Notable Quote: “My biggest challenge today is helping guide the company through far-reaching regulatory and industry changes that are transforming the face of our industry. Not a week goes by that I don't read an article that could have a significant impact on our company.”
Professional background: I began my career in the financial services industry in 1987 and helped build Hennessy Advisors, Inc. (the investment manager of Hennessy Funds) from its inception in 1989. Today, I serve as the general business manager and financial officer for Hennessy Advisors, Inc., and am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm. Education: BA in Economics from the University of California, Davis
Tell us about yourself and your company: I am a Novato native, the youngest of seven children. I have been married for 25 years, and have three children: a sophomore in college, a junior in high-school and a sixth grader. I have worked alongside Neil Hennessy, founder of Hennessy Funds, since 1989. Together, we have grown Hennessy Advisors, Inc. (the publicly traded asset manager of Hennessy Funds) over 15 fold from $375 million at the end of its first fiscal year as a public company to over $6.5 billion under management today. Our business strategy has been a combination of growing organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share? I was named a “Top Woman in Asset Management” by Money Management Executive magazine in their May 8, 2017 issue. It was a great honor.
Any community involvement?
I believe community involvement is essential. I've been involved in many aspects of my community: coaching sports teams, participating in the PTA at my kids' schools, heading up fundraisers, and volunteering in classrooms. My husband and I have also become very involved in Okizu, one of Neil's favorite charities. Okizu is a summer camp for children with cancer and their families. Our involvement in Okizu has been both inspiring and life-changing. We help with an annual ‘shindig' hosted by Hennessy Advisors in order to raise money for the Okizu Preservation Fund to ensure funding for Okizu continues into the future.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the team we've assembled at Hennessy Advisors. Our success as a business is directly attributable to each of them. And because of the incredible people I work with, I am able to balance a robust, rewarding professional life with a fulfilling family life, raising three great children with my husband Mitch. I couldn't have done it without the support I receive at the office and at home.
What is your biggest challenge today?
My biggest challenge today is helping guide the company through far-reaching regulatory and industry changes that are transforming the face of our industry. Not a week goes by that I don't read an article that could have a significant impact on our Company.
Words that best describe you: Committed, Compassionate, Driven, Grateful.
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I never felt that there were obstacles to overcome, instead I felt there were opportunities presented. I found many like-minded professionals, both female and male, to collaborate with and learn from over the years. I have also made long-standing friendships with women in the industry, which is easy to do when you face similar issues of work-life balance and project management on a daily basis. Balancing family with a dynamic career is a challenge for working women (and men) in any industry and I am no exception.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
I believe that every industry is faced with “disruptions.” It's how we can navigate through those disruptions every year, not just the next five that will define our success. We've remained successful by delivering solid products with integrity, and I am confident that if we continue to focus on our simple business strategy we can weather any challenges that come our way.
Who was your most important mentor?
It is certainly Neil Hennessy, CEO and founder of Hennessy Advisors. Neil has been a dedicated, committed CEO who truly leads by example. He continues to exhibit great vision and entrepreneurial foresight building this company, and he has also shown me how to select consummate professionals to work beside us on this journey. Neil has a great sense of humor that has helped us get through a few rough patches during the past 28 years.
I've also had an extremely important “life” mentor in my mother, Dorothy Mariani. Not only was she extremely intelligent, but she knew how to impart her wisdom on everyone around her, which is a true skill. The passion she had when she spoke about the history and natural beauty of Marin County and California gave me my zest for learning. It was infectious. She was also an incredible baker, and that skill lives on in my daughter Reese, who loves to bake, maybe even more than my mother did.