Marie joined West One as Sales Director in 2017 leading sales and distribution for our Second Charge Division. She was previously Managing Director of specialist distributor V Loans , and prior to that has worked in senior positions within the specialist lending market over the last 17 years.
Marie was also a board member of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and was recently appointed as a board member to the newly relaunched Society of Mortgage Professionals.
What brought you into financial services?
It happened initially through some old fashioned nepotism. One of my parents worked for Barclaycard at the time and managed to get me a summer job whilst in 6th form. This was the start of longer stints for Barclays and the Halifax pre and post University until I was offered a management trainee position for the Yorkshire Building Society which really cemented by career path in financial services.
I made the move into the specialist lending sector in 2003. Over the last 17 years I have been fortunate to work alongside many talented people and personalities which has made sure I never regretted that summer job!
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?
Karen Brady has a great phrase “don’t confuse leadership with management”. For me a leader is someone who can inspire their team to be passionate about the company they work for. The ability to be decisive, visionary and lead by example are also important qualities for a successful leader.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that leadership style is linked to gender but overall it is probably fair to say that women make more empathetic leaders and sometimes need to show additional strength and resilience to compete on a level playing field.
What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
There are some businesses which are far more progressive than others and I have worked for one or two companies in the past where they definitely appeared to have lost the memo on gender equality when it came to the senior management team. However, I have been fortunate in my working life that being a female hasn’t affected my career progression.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
Have confidence in your abilities, push yourself outside of your comfort zone and don’t wait for success to find you. Often the hardest experiences are where you the learn the most so always be open to learning from your mistakes as much (if not more) as your successes.
What's your own personal mantra?
Be respectful to all and make sure you enjoy what you do.
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
This isn’t always easy as I find myself constantly checking work emails day and night, but I am learning to be stricter with myself to make sure I can give 100% of my time and attention to my family when work is over. My son constantly tells me off about using my mobile so I am trying really hard to take that on board!
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Be on top of the detail, deal with the weaknesses and make sure loyalty and success are acknowledged.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
I would advise women to visualise where they want to be, stay true to yourself, work hard and have the courage to seek out opportunities even if that means breaking out of your comfort zone to continually learn and develop.
What do you think is holding women back?
There are more pressures on women to balance work and family life but good employers acknowledge the challenges and recognise talent and ability regardless of gender.
Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?
There are some excellent female role models within financial services and this is growing all the time. The industry needs more of these examples to inspire the next generation. It can be an eye opener at industry events to see the clear gender disparity but I do believe progress is being made, we just need more of it!
What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter?
To have a charter which gains commitment from firms to set targets which encourage more women to take on senior roles and promote greater diversity in the workplace is very welcome. The number of signatories is really gathering pace so this is a positive step forwards.
How do we encourage more women into financial services?
As I said earlier it is important to see more female role models to inspire more women into an industry that is still very male centric.The more businesses celebrate their own diversity and progressive culture will help drive the next generation of women into financial services.
The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?
I think there is a legacy issue here where historically men have benefited from higher salaries. There would have to be a greater commitment from firms to carry out a transparent benchmarking exercise, to make sure that where gender pay gaps exist, these are identified and redressed.