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Melanie Seymour

news published date 5 February 2018
  • Our Stories
“The impact that being nominated has on candidates’ confidence, as well as their internal and external profile, is incredible.”

Melanie has over 30 years of experience in finance and banking, holding senior roles in Technology, Operations, and Change Management as well as running her own business. She joined the Advisory Board of Women in Banking and Finance in 2017 after three years as WIBF Vice President. Melanie splits her time between Budapest and London as managing director with BlackRock, Budapest. Melanie is on the judging panel for the 2018 WIBF Awards for Achievement so we asked her a few questions about the awards.

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

I am looking for candidates who have done more than been successful in their role. The stories of extra curricular activities that have had impact across a broad spectrum are the ones that stand out.

The areas that people do not always see as exceptional – “it’s just what I do and I am passionate about it” – are normally the ones that I am most humbled by.

How would you encourage someone to make a nomination if they weren’t sure?

What is stopping you highlighting great achievements and putting the spotlight on members of your organisation that are truly moving the dial? The impact that being nominated has on candidates’ confidence, as well as their internal and external profile, is incredible. Whilst not everyone can win, every past nominee can tell a story of the difference being recognised made to them.

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

Unfortunately women still are not good at personally recognising what they do or even if they do, at publicising it. So many great people are making huge impacts internally and externally without their managers having any idea.

Awards are a unique opportunity to really highlight the hidden stars in our organisations.

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?

Build a strong network, ask for help and advice and always be a supportive peer and role model. It took me far too long to realise that it wasn’t necessary to be an expert in everything and that asking advice was not a sign of weakness. Developing a group of people around you early in your career will be invaluable as a support network as you progress.

You don’t have to wait until you are a long way in to your career to start being a role model and supporting your peers. Having that type of brand early on will pay big dividends.

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

My career path has been very varied with lots of ups and downs and whilst at times I would have liked to have had a smoother path it has equipped me well. It gave me a very broad understanding of business as well as a large toolkit of skills and experiences to pull from.

The roles that give you the most opportunities are usually the ones that look the least exciting/career enhancing on paper.

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

Anything that keeps people focused on the subject has to be a good thing but I do not believe that quotas alone will solve the issue.

To increase diversity you also need to ensure you focus on inclusion to generate an environment where diversity of thought and behaviour is encouraged and allowed to have impact.

You were Vice President for WIBF for three years, so you’ve met many of WIBF’s past winners, is there a trait these women have in common?

There are a couple of things that always stand out in the winners – They have used the platform their role gives them to give back to others rather than for their own good; they are truly passionate about paying forward and bringing women up with them.

The other traits are bravery and resilience. Most winners have had to make brave, sometimes unpopular choices, and keep pushing against resistance to ensure they achieve their goals.

You’ve been to several Award Luncheons; do you have a favourite memory?

Every year I am honoured and humbled to be surrounded by such incredible people who are so passionate about diversity. Each year I worry that we will not be able to keep the standard for the next year, yet every year seems better than the one before.

My favourite memory has to be having our first man win an award. That really did feel like we had started to make a change.

To make a nomination for the 2018 WIBF Awards for Achievement please click this link