50th Anniversary: Dr Sue Noffke Q&A

50 Aston Greats - Sue Noffke

Dr Sue Noffke

Dr Sue Noffke graduated from Aston University in 1989 with a degree in Business Administration and Biochemistry. She is currently UK Equity Manager at British multinational asset management company Schroders - the same company with which she did her placement year at Aston. 

She started out at Schroders as a Sector Analyst working on the insurance, tobacco and textile sectors, and in 1993 went into Fund Management, where she has been managing increasingly large portfolios. However, her career might have been very different, as she was approached through Aston Business School in her final year to consider applying to MI6! 

The Telegraph has referred to Sue Noffke as the UK’s leading female Fund Manager, while financial analysts Citywire has called her the best female Fund Manager in the business. In 2014 she received an honorary degree from Aston University for her outstanding contribution to business.

Watch Sue Noffke's 2014 graduation speech

Watch Sue Noffke's 2014 graduation speech

What made you choose Aston as an undergraduate?

I enjoyed science and business and there were not many universities that did combined degrees of that nature. I applied to Aston, Nottingham, Manchester and St Andrews and went to see everyone on the list. Some of the institutions that I visited didn’t have a course heritage and reputation; by contrast Aston was small, and seemed to have a great heritage, reputation, history and links. The fact that it was a sandwich course was also particularly appealing. Studying at Aston - and doing the placement year - was fantastic and I wouldn’t be at Schroders today, were it not for Aston’s contacts. There was a notice board with the placement opportunities on it; I had imagined myself applying to ICI for something science or business-related but I saw this London-based, City finance opportunity and thought “It’s only for a year and looks interesting”. Two of my colleagues came up from London to interview me, and the rest is history. 

What do you think makes Aston special and distinctive?

It is small with focused areas of excellence. It is modern, forward-thinking, relates well to business and, as such, is able to set itself apart from other institutions.

What memories do you have of your time at Aston? 

I recall a lecturer from the Business School effectively giving a “permission to dare to dream” talk within his class. It was either in my second or final year where the lecturer was discussing success and pay across society. As he addressed the students he said: “Some of you will get to the top and be earning six-figure salaries”. This has stuck with me. I think it had an impact on me because someone was saying it was possible for some of us, including me, to get to that level and that success didn’t just happen to other people. This has, to some degree, been inspirational in a slow-burn kind of way. I also made friends for life at Aston. I have fond memories of my time in halls at Handsworth Wood; and the balls were amazing, they involved the whole University and went on all night!

What's the best advice you can give to today's graduates?

Study something that you have a passion for and that you're really keen on. Life is hard enough, so carry that enthusiasm through, and that tends to open doors. I feel that I use the disciplines learnt from studying science on a day-to-day basis in my Fund Management work in terms of data analysis and report writing. There is nowhere to hide in Fund Management - the industry is transparent and it is very clear whether you are doing a good or bad job, so your reputation is constantly on the line.