Women in Finance - Staff Comments


In support of our commitment to the Women in Finance charter, and International Women’s Day in March, we spoke with some of our female leaders to ask for their thoughts on working in the financial services sector. With a commitment to have 40% of our Executive Committee and their direct reports female, we’re focussed on ensuring that all initiatives we put in place are gender neutral so all Shawbrook employees, regardless of gender, can benefit from them. 

Read more about our commitment to the Women in Finance Charter.

Maire George, Head of Legal, Consumer and Property

What is your personal view of working in the financial services sector and can you share any experiences?

Senior roles within the industry are still male dominated. But women are slowly making progress. We’re chipping away at that glass ceiling! Women now make up a third of Shawbrook’s Executive Committee, which is good and steady progress. We’re certainly heading in the right direction, even if we’re not quite there yet. It should inspire confidence in women working here that these positions can one day be their reality.  The financial services sector needs more women in senior positions. There is strength in diversity. It is always better to have differing perspectives and viewpoints. Our customers and partners are not homogenous. Why should we be?

The best part about your role at Shawbrook…

I feel personally invested in Shawbrook. I joined as an in-house lawyer back in 2011, when there were about 50 employees. Today, we’re closer to 700. I remember my interview for the job. I really wanted it. It was exciting to be a part of a business with an impressive growth strategy at a time when other businesses were cutting back. The work is challenging and fast paced but extremely rewarding. The people here are Shawbrook’s greatest asset. They roll up their sleeves and crack on with the job. There is great team spirit.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully a bit wiser with some good, solid business experience under my belt so I can give some worthwhile tips and life hacks for the next generation of senior females at Shawbrook. If change is to happen, then we women need to look out for each other.

Karen Bennett, Managing Director, Commercial Mortgages

What is your personal view of working in the financial services sector and can you share any experiences?

The financial sector is one that is perceived to be heavily dominated by men and therefore assumptions are made that opportunities do not exist, or are harder to come by for women.  I have been asked before to discuss the ‘hardships’ I have faced as a senior woman in finance and I have to say, that isn’t my perception or experience. 

Yes, I have faced environments where the population is heavily male, like the broker market for instance, however whilst I may have faced some initial judgement as a young woman, I think the fact I knew my market, delivered for them and added value to their business, the fact I was a woman wasn’t in question. It’s my personal view that if you demonstrate that you can deliver in whatever role you perform then any initial reservations people may have based on stereotypes are eradicated.

I believe I have worked for leaders who believed in people.  I think if a business is people focused it becomes less concerned with generalising, and looks at staff members as individuals and managed on this basis, then I think people excel with this style of supportive personalised management.

The best part about your role at Shawbrook…

It’s hard to pinpoint as I enjoy the role and the company very much.  My absolute favourite part is managing people, providing that individualised support to help someone build and evolve and become the best they can be, feels almost family like.  I also enjoy the fact that the business believes in its people to be the experts and to not only spot the areas of improvement but also find the solutions. I enjoy getting to understand a challenge and then finding solutions for these, as I believe these solutions can create great opportunities.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Continuing to feel fulfilled in the role I perform and delivering to a high standard for the business I am working for and continuing to support great personnel in achieving their professional goals.

Lisa Crane, Customer Services Director

What is your personal view of working in the financial services sector and can you share any experiences?

There is of course an element of male domination in finance, but Shawbrook has always had plenty of women in senior positions so it has never really felt to me personally that relevant. It is great to think that because of the representation of females at the top we are inspiring new people who come into the Bank in junior positions. I do remember when I was promoted to a Director I was emailed congratulations by a female colleague who had recently returned from maternity leave and she referenced how important it was to see what can be achieved by females within the Bank. We need to take that responsibility seriously, supporting each other as much as we can.

The best part about your role at Shawbrook…

I have been with the Bank from the beginning and have seen so much change and progression in that time. Despite all that growth, I still feel like this is very much my Bank and I have the ability to positively influence the future.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully still plugging away at ways to improve what we do and seeing the progression of the next generation through the ranks.

Maeve Ward, Managing Director, Residential Mortgages

What is your personal view of working in the financial services sector and can you share any experiences?

I have worked in the financial sector for over 17 years, where it has often been very male dominated. However, recent years has seen a growth in the number of women holding senior positions within financial services which is encouraging to see. Lenders and brokers have worked hard to ensure a balance. A key broker partner of ours, Brightstar, are doing all they can for women in the industry, hosting regular Women in business lunches and forums to encourage networking.

The best part about your role at Shawbrook… 

The best part of my role at Shawbrook has to be the “Team” whom are very much my Shawbrook family! In 6 years we’ve seen only three people leave which highlights what a great place the bank is to work. People buy people and in a price led market this accounts for a lot, reflected in our countless awards for “Service” we’ve picked up year on year. Watching the business grow from a small acorn into a number one challenger bank makes me so proud! The success of the bank is a result of being built on a foundation of really talented individuals and strong leadership. Staff are encouraged to be open, honest and challenge the norm allowing us to continue to improve, evolve and innovate, and in turn extend our reach to customers.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I tend to live for the here and now because tomorrow hasn’t arrive yet, but I would like to think in 5 years the team and I will have expanded into all the markets within our five year plan and have a best in class operational platform so that the David Johnson (DJ) legacy can live on.

TWIF