Every week, Evan Harp sits down with members of the Exchange team to learn more about them, their perspective on life, and what they hope Exchange can bring to the industry.
This week, he sat down with one of the key team members producing Exchange: An ETF Experience, Sovaida Noronha, event production & partnerships manager, Advisor Circle.
Evan Harp: What is something surprising about you that people wouldn’t be able to discern right away?
Sovaida Noronha: I’ve actually been in the wealth industry for about 14 years, producing events and crafting agendas since I can remember. I started off in about 2008, working on alternative investments but primarily hedge funds, when hedge funds were popular. I helped launch the first ever Canadian ETF event in Toronto in 2009, then travelled that ETF event across Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Shortly thereafter, we launched a closed-door institutional event for the top pensions and institutional investors.
That’s how I met Matt Hougan and Dave Nadig — in 2015, I traveled to Inside ETFs to take a look at my competition [laughs] and see what they were doing. I was introduced to Matt and Dave. They were signing their ETF books. Matt looked up and said, “Next up, Canada.”
So that’s my journey in getting into this industry. It was just so welcoming. I did the rational thing, and I invited Matt and Dave to join me at one of my Canadian ETF events. Here we are seven years later, launching an event together. I’m truly honored and blessed!
Evan Harp: What inspires you creatively, emotionally, or spiritually?
Sovaida Noronha: There’s quite a few things that inspire me. Of course, there’s my family, my team, knowledge — I’m a big believer in always learning — and the people that you surround yourself with, and my journey. I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew who I wanted to be. So, I surrounded myself with amazing people who mentored me, pushed me, and inspired me to continue with my career path and not give up.
I also want to raise my daughters to be strong, independent women and to show them that even though there’s hardships in life, having the ability to continue learning, and growing, and working hard, and not giving up will allow you to be who you want to be and be successful. It’s the “never give up” attitude, that’s the saying in our house.
Then, creatively with work — I have such an amazing team behind me. But my inspiration also comes from connecting with the industry in itself, working with advisors, issuers, thought leaders, and associations that are pushing the status quo, pushing the boundaries.
As I mentioned, I work on the agenda alongside John Swolfs. So being able to bring it to life, in terms of what they want to hear about, is something that inspires me to do more research, dig a little deeper, and creatively bring those topics to the event.
I also love, love, love working with associations that are, again, pushing the boundaries on change, mental health, bridging the gap, and working to change the face of our industry that truly inspires me.
Evan Harp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Sovaida Noronha: This is going to sound funny, but my dream job from when I was a kid was to be a cop. Not just any cop — an undercover police officer, like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, but not to that extent. In all seriousness, growing up, my dad, he always did a lot of volunteering through his work with the different Ontario police regions to install alarm systems. Hold on. Did I mentioned that I am Canadian? Because I’m Canadian. [Laughs.]
He would volunteer to install alarm systems in the houses of women and children being abused. He also invited a few of them home for dinner with our family as well. It was one of those eye-openers, seeing that. I knew that, growing up, I wanted to be just like him — a person that would help people.
Even though I didn’t become a police officer, I’m always willing to lend a helping hand.
Evan Harp: What has been the most rewarding part of launching Exchange?
Sovaida Noronha: First and foremost, working with the most amazing, talented, inspirational team. On top of that, working with so many strong creative females — you wouldn’t believe the amount of females that are behind this event. The wealth industry has predominantly been a male-dominated industry. So to step in, to launch an event that has more women than men behind it, it’s phenomenal, I would say.
Secondly, it’s about connecting with advisors. Someone once told me content is content, but it’s the way you deliver the content and the connection you make with your audience that will have the biggest impact on your event.
When I was given the opportunity to help launch Exchange, I knew that I was in a position to really help shape a different kind of agenda, an agenda that has more meaning, more in-depth conversations, and that has provided tangible solutions. An agenda that allowed advisors to have a say, to tell us the topics that they want to hear about that will help with their practice, speakers they want to hear from, and themes they want us to cover. It will be all about building your own experience from the dueling stages, to the Brain Date and book club sessions, to the many podcasts — and we have some amazing podcasts that will be taping live from Exchange. It will be all about the experience that will set us apart.
Evan Harp: What are you most looking forward to in Exchange: An ETF Experience?
Sovaida Noronha: Getting out of the Canadian cold and into the Miami heat! Hands down. That’s it.
Seeing this event come to life. I get to work with the speakers and the hosts on session preps and topics and themes they’re looking to cover. We’ve put the agenda together, and we’ve got some amazing speakers that are joining us on stage. I get a first glimpse of what that conversation is going to focus on. Let me tell you… actually, I can’t tell you! You’ll have to be at Exchange to learn from these brilliant, forward-looking minds on the future of the ETF industry.
See you in Miami!
To learn more about Exchange, visit www.exchangeetf.com.
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