At the height of her successful 25 year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help corporate women connect and grow professionally and personally. WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and in 2013 launched a sister site in India.
Vanessa Vallely
Vanessa Vallely
"The awards showcase just how much talent there is in the female pipeline and provides these women with a platform to shine"

At the height of her successful 25 year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help corporate women connect and grow professionally and personally. WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and in 2013 launched a sister site in India.

Vanessa is the also the founder of UK wide diversity forum Gender Networks. Gender Networks (formerly The Network of Networks) brings together diversity leaders from over 120 firms to share best practice.

Vanessa is the author of the book “Heels of Steel: Surviving and Thriving in the Corporate World” which tracks her career and shares 13 chapters of tips to succeed in the workplace.

Over the past seven years, Vanessa has been named as Financial News Top 100 Rising Star, The International Alliance for Women Top 100 Women globally & Brummells Top 30 London Entrepreneurs. In 2015 Vanessa was in GQ UK’s Top 100 Connected Women and the Evening Standard’s 1000 Most Influential Londoners. Vanessa is a regular guest on TV and radio and also sits on the Government Digital Services advisory board.

In 2011 Vanessa was Women in Banking and Finance’s Champion for Women and she returns this year as one of the six judges. She kindly took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us…

What will you be looking for when you judge the candidates for the WIBF Awards?

Firstly, I am looking for a proven track record of delivery and expertise in the nominees’ field. I am also looking for strong examples of leadership behaviour and support for others. I am also particularly interested in the impact of the nominee both in terms of what they have delivered and how they have been a role model to others.

Have you got any tips for those making a nomination?

Reflect on your nominees’ achievements and past deliveries. When writing your nominations ensure that you use cause and effect. Eg, They delivered this, which had this impact on the business/people etc. Don’t forget to use metrics to bring the gravitas of their deliveries to life! Use quotes from others. Describe obstacles and how they were overcame. Include any examples of innovation or how they approached a solution in a non-conventional manner. Write your nomination like you are telling a story!

Why do you think awards for women are still so important?

Until there is equal representation of men and women in senior leadership positions, I still believe there is a place for awards for women. Without speaking for all women, there is a slight resistance from some to blow their own horn or toot their own trumpet. I believe having awards for women allows others to showcase achievements for those are currently doing great work, but no one knows about them! The awards also showcase just how much talent there is in the female pipeline and provides these women with a platform to be role models for others.

This year we have a new award for ‘Rising Star’ – what advice would you give to women just starting out in a career in banking and finance?

Put your hand up for absolutely any opportunity that comes your way, regardless of whether or not you think you can do it. Seek your mentors and grow your internal sponsorship. Grow your network by going to every single internal event you can. Don’t forget to build a network outside your organiations. When it comes to your career, you will get out what you put in!

Is there anything you wish you had done differently on your career path?

Learn to balance my work/home life a bit better. There was a period where it was all work, work and more work, there was no balance. That is not a healthy existence for anyone. Work hard by all means, but make sure you factor in time to wind down and be with friends and family.

Do you think quotas are helpful to increase diversity within the industry?

Absolutely not. I am anti-quota. I have seen a huge shift in our industry over the past 20 years, it hasn’t been fast, but we are moving in the right direction. I am a big fan of building inclusive cultures for the future. Although quotas may bring around a faster change, my concern would be that we are forcing the hand rather than winning the hearts and minds.

And finally, can you sum up what it means to be a part of WIBF?

I would actively encourage anyone in the Banking and Finance sector to make a nomination for this year’s awards. If you feel you deserve recognition, then why not ask someone to nominate you?! Winning back in 2011 was a game changer for my career. Don’t delay, enter now!

Being part of the WIBF awards is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your talent and potential. As a previous winner, I experienced first-hand just how wonderful it was to be part of the WIBF family.

The WIBF are amongst one of the most highly respected industry awards in the world of banking and finance. I am encouraging all women and men in the sector to nominate. Let’s showcase the amazing array of female talent in the world of finance.

To find out more about the WIBF Awards for Achievement and how to make a nomination please click here

Vanessa with her WIBF award in 2011 (left) with Carole Bernt and Stephanie Niven
Vanessa with her WIBF award in 2011 (left) with Carole Bernt and Stephanie Niven