What was your first role at Investec?
I was Head of HR IT systems - I had traversed that line between business and IT for quite a long time, so it seemed a good fit. My entry to Investec being HR, allowed me to really understand the culture of Investec, the smell of it and what makes it so distinctive. I also learned about the chemistry of how people come together, how relationships are formed and the currency that those relationships hold.
How has Investec supported your journey?
I’ve had really great leaders and colleagues, and my female friendships have been transformational in terms of my thinking and my growth, especially when it came to moving out of HR into the business. I was assisting the Head of IT - who happened to be a woman at the time - on a project, and she mentioned that there was a gap in the role of Head of Payments. I took that job, focusing on managing our IT systems, raising our profile in the industry, and establishing a strong payments strategic and operational focus.
What are some essential skills in your industry?
How to establish good relationships through collegial diplomacy and negotiate a viewpoint. There’s a structural method to it, so I really took the time to learn that skill set. Another is the currency of relationship building. Investec laid that deep foundation for me, but I had to figure out how to hone that skillset and authentically build relationships.
I’ve also learnt to be more assertive, and make my presence felt, which doesn’t always mean being the loudest in the room.
How would you describe your leadership style now?
Unapologetic, consultative and respectful, with an underlying base of integrity. I’ve also learnt to be more assertive, and make my presence felt, which doesn’t always mean being the loudest in the room. I’m a perennial perfectionist and place high demands on myself, but I’ve had to balance out what is good enough – and how you allow others to take up the space they’re in – in a positive and supportive environment, so they operate effectively and play to their strengths and not yours or rather mine.
What advice would you give women wanting to follow a similar career path?
Never take no for an answer. In a very patriarchal society, women often play victim to that default patriarchal response, of no, and this passive acceptance helps no one. Women also tend to apologise unnecessarily. We walk into a room and say “sorry I’m late” while our male colleagues generally never apologise for their lateness. They simply fill up the room and claim their space - us women need to do more of that.
I’ve always had this relentless pursuit of something bigger and better, which has been fuelled by a deep underlying resilience. Everybody has it, if you dig deep enough, and once you find it, there’s nothing that can replace the drive you get from this sort of internal dragon energy. As Audrey Hepburn said: ‘Nothing is impossible, impossible is actually, I’m possible’.