CEO, Market Structure Partners
Can you please tell us about your career journey? Was this the field you had intended to go into?
No – nothing was what I intended. I was definitely one of those people who didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do and it all sort of unfolded along the way. I tried a few different things in between travelling the world before ending up at an investment bank and then worked my way up through different departments. Nonetheless I have very much enjoyed the journey.
Looking back, how have things changed over the past ten years in terms of diversity and career progression and what does the industry need to focus on today?
I think a significant amount has changed for the better. When I look at some of the dialogue I have in the boardroom and also with the staff in the different businesses I am involved in, I have to remind myself how different it was ten years ago. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. I still see some of the same old stuff repeating itself but (and no surprises here) I see that most in companies that are still very male dominated. I think the industry still needs to work from top to bottom on aligning its values with a more diverse population both as customers, suppliers and employees.
What lessons have been learnt and how can senior managers, but in particular middle managers, drive change and retain people?
It’s really a circular thing. When you have a well-balanced and diverse work force, diversity just isn’t an issue in the way that it is in more male dominated places. The conversation in the office is different, how people think is different, the risks and rewards are different and that leads to better decisions and behaviour all around. The big question is how to get that balance and attract a diverse workforce.
It all starts with how people view the firm. Whether on-line or in the office, firms have an image and they need to think about how they present themselves. Often firms think they have done everything they can to attract a more diverse group but people will see through lip service and box ticking very quickly. However, if the values and culture shine through, reflecting an attractive environment for a diverse range of people, then it’s a good start. Obviously having clearly articulated policies that appeal to a diverse group and honouring those policies is also important (i.e. flexible working).
It’s a two-way street as well. There was a time when women were encouraged to think they might be able to have it all. But no one has it all and both men and women will have to make sacrifices and trade-offs with personal life during their working career. Acknowledging that and making sure that both sides feel they are sharing the burden at work and at home is a good thing (for example by also showing men that it’s OK to take paternity leave). These sort of things start to change the thinking of a whole generation.