Kerry has been at Stewart Investors for 17 years, starting as a software developer and progressing to the Head of IT role, her recent promotion to Acting Global Head of IT for CFSGAM has meant she has had to stand down her role as Co Chair for WIBF’s Edinburgh branch.
We caught up with Kerry to find out her highlights of her time with WIBF and how being a WIBF member has helped her professionally.
You’ve been involved with WIBF since 2014, how did you get involved, can you remember what prompted you to go to the first event?
It was actually my friend Karyn who asked me to go along to an event with her and it was a spotlight supper on diversity, I really enjoyed the event and found it refreshing how everyone felt comfortable to share their views and opinions. I went to another few events, got to know a few of the board members and then asked if I could be considered for a board position as I was quite shocked that I had worked in Financial Services for over 13 years and hadn’t heard of the network so I wanted to help raise the profile of the network any way that I could.
You’ve been involved in the WIBF mentoring programme, can you tell us the impact this has had on you personally and professionally?
Mentoring is something that I’m really passionate about. I really believe that having someone to use a springboard for ideas and who will support you and encourage you to achieve your goals is really important. Sometimes it’s even just about voicing what you want to do to another person that spurs you on to do something about the aspirations that you have but haven’t yet acted upon. I like the way that a mentor isn’t there to give you the answers, they are there to reframe the question back to you and to make you think about things in a different light, I think that is very powerful. I joined the board to run the mentoring programme, I ran a campaign to raise interest and doubled the amount of people participating year on year for three years. I would also ask any speakers that came along to speak at events if they would be a mentor so we ended up with some very high profile and experienced women as mentors which was amazing.
Within WIBF, I’ve had three different mentors, my first mentor helped me remain focussed and stopped me diving down into a level of detail when I was going through a large change programme at work. The second mentor was a springboard for me and helped me a launch a prototype mentoring programme for men and women within my organisation, it was an idea that I always held internally but it was only when I voiced this to my mentor and she encouraged me that I made a commitment to myself that I would make this happen.
My third mentor in particular, Marcia Campbell, a very successful businesswomen who holds a portfolio of Non-Exec positions has had the biggest impact, she has helped me think more strategically about where I want to be over the next three years and encouraged me consider what I want from my career and provided me with support/ideas and pushed me to achieve my goals.
Even although I’ve stepped down as co-chair I will still be signing up to future programmes both as a mentor and a mentee. I definitely believe that having these mentors particularly the latest mentor has helped me push myself forward and make known my career goals to my organisation which is something I struggled with in the past.
Are there any other aspects of being involved in WIBF that have helped you in your career?
Definitely some of the PEP events have helped me, I got a lot of value from the PEP on the topic of Presentations by Mel Sherwood. I actually followed up with Mel afterwards to help me with a small talk I had to do for the FutureAS5et conference that I was asked to speak at which had 400 school children attending, I was slightly terrified and wanted to try and make my topic interesting and relevant to the audience. There have also been some great talks on networking, difficult conversations, diversity – I find that every event I attend I learn something new.
I really enjoyed the Women on Boards events and the high profile speaker events, I always find it inspiring to hear other people’s career journeys and how different twists and turns lead them to where they are now.
Can you recall your favourite WIBF event you have attended and why?
There have been so many great events that I’ve attended but I think the Carly Sutherland event that I attended in May really stands out for me as it was on artificial intelligence and how jobs will change radically as a result of this. On the back of this I went into a meeting at my work a few weeks later where there was a discussion around artificial intelligence and cyber security and I fully understood the discussion and was able to contribute an informed opinion. It’s when situations like this happen that I really appreciate the power of the WIBF network.
What achievement are you most proud of during your time as chair of the Edinburgh branch?
I’m most proud of working alongside Niamh (co-chair) and all of the other Edinburgh board to raise the profile of the network, during the time that I was co-chair it really feels like we stepped the network up to the next level, we doubled the amount of people on the mentoring programme year on year, started to need bigger venues for our events, we had high profile speakers such as Jayne Anne Ghadia and Alison McGregor and we introduced the Women on Boards Programme.
You’ve been recently promoted, what can you tell us about your new position and what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve been promoted into the Acting Global Head of IT for CFSGAM, I have responsibility for all the IT teams globally which are based in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, New York and Louisville. I am really looking forward to getting to know all of my team and meeting all the business stakeholders globally.
If you could go back in time, what career advice would you give to the 18 year old you?
Find something that you are passionate about as when you enjoy what you do then it doesn’t feel like work! Also put yourself forward for any opportunities that come up, sometimes it shows you what you don’t want to do rather than what you do want to do!