Joanne Seagrave is chair of the WIBF Edinburgh branch. To celebrate International Women’s Day last week, Tesco Bank spoke to colleagues who are actively involved in the conversation on how we promote a better gender balance at the bank. Joanne shared how her involvement in the Women at Tesco and Women in Banking and Finance networks has made a huge difference in her career.
Tesco Bank has kindly allowed us to reproduce her blog here. The original article can be found here.
Back in 2014, I started become interested in Women at Tesco after attending a few of their early events on developing your personal brand and the power of networking. As one of a small number of women working in Financial Risk at the time, I really enjoyed meeting other women across Tesco Bank and making new connections across different business areas.
My early involvement with Women at Tesco helped introduce me to likeminded colleagues who inspired me to think differently about my career. Since then, the network has grown to involve hundreds of colleagues across the business all of whom are dedicated to Tesco Bank’s aim to be a truly inclusive, diverse and welcoming place for all colleagues.
Thanks to Women at Tesco, I took advantage of the link with Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF), becoming a member of this broader network. Through WIBF, I was able to attend events and network beyond Tesco Bank, through events hosted by other banks and insurers. By expanding my network I learned more about industry developments, gained support from women on how to face challenges and deal with them with resilience and humour. Thanks to my involvement in the networks, I was able to listen to and learn from my industry peers, which allowed me to gain a whole new, fresh perspective about working in financial services.
Having gained so much simply by being a member of Women in Banking and Finance, I wanted to get more involved. In particular, I was keen to hear more about industry hot topics. As a first step, I joined the WIBF Board as Company Secretary. Once I was more established in this role, I started to put forward new ideas for events.
From here, I steadily built up my network, which helped me to deliver varied events for the Edinburgh membership. These included a Fintech business breakfast working in partnership with Scottish Financial Enterprise; economic updates provided by the Bank of England; and sessions on the latest in financial crime developments.
Along the way, I was fortunate enough to meet a range of inspiring speakers and gain invaluable insight into how to deal with the world of work. Over the years, a few particular pearls of wisdom have stuck with me:
* Encourage diversity of thought: Having a wide variety of views around the table – whether this is provided by different genders, experience and background – can result in healthy challenge of the status quo and a better balance in the decision-making process. It’s important to consider this principle when arranging a meeting, scoping a project or putting together members of your governance committees. For me, this sums up the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day - #balanceforbetter.
* Prepare to speak up: It’s important to understand that your opinion and voice is worthwhile addition to any discussion, and therefore you should be prepared to speak your mind with confidence, lead the debate and move out of your comfort zone. For many, this takes practice, but it’s a key skill to develop.
* Respect your life cycle: Having gone through times in my life when the caring for young children and elderly parents were a priority, I wasn’t always able to work longer hours or travel for work. However, you can still be totally present while at work and make every minute count. When the time is right for you, you can then take the leap to throw yourself back in to work; in my case, when the empty nest comes around.
As a result of that last point, I made two major careers decisions last year: to apply to be Branch Co-Chair of WIBF in Edinburgh, and to move roles internally to become Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Reporting. I would only have had the confidence to put myself forward and change direction with the support of the Women at Tesco and WIBF networks, and the men and women I have met along the way. For me, being involved in these networks had been a truly transformative experience.