Can Developing Social Housing Address Other Societal Challenges Too?
12 February 21
12 February 21
A lawyer by profession, I decided to take the reasoning, analytical and presentation skills I’d learnt through my legal studies to a different industry entirely – finance. Without any of the skills or qualifications traditionally associated with our industry, I was both surprised and delighted to be awarded a place on a graduate recruitment scheme at Morgan Grenfell Asset Management in 1999. The brilliantly designed programme provided me with an early and invaluable opportunity to understand the intricacies and interdependencies of each of the back/middle and front office functions within investment management.
Since then, I have enjoyed a wonderful 22 year career, largely focussed on leading teams of exceptional individuals, responsible for building and managing relationships with institutional asset owners.
In 2019, Triple Point approached me to discuss whether social housing would be an attractive investment proposition for institutional investors. The meeting was intended as a conversation, nothing more and certainly wasn’t a job opportunity. However, I was so passionate about what Triple Point was trying to achieve by tackling some of societies biggest challenges – whether it was tackling the chronic housing shortage in the UK, helping the Government to meet its Net Zero target or the provision of vital equipment such as ambulances and ventilators into the NHS, that I knew this was a firm that not only shared my own personal values but an organization where I felt I could add significant value by introducing asset owners looking to repurpose their own investment strategies.
Over the last 12 months I have introduced Triple Point to some of the industry initiatives that I have been actively involved with over the last decade - notably the Diversity Project, i2020 and more recently, 100BlackInterns. Initiatives focused on encouraging the next generation to join a ‘better,’ more inclusive industry. We have also worked closely alongside The Good Economy to help standardize ESG metrics throughout the social housing sector, signed up to the UNPRI and submitted a application to become a B Corps.
Undoubtedly, winning Investment Woman of the Year has been the single greatest achievement of my career. It is my hope that my award is representative of my desire to help make our industry a more compassionate, inclusive one. Further, I hope that by continuing to write, blog and talk about my personal challenges as a woman, as a mother of two autistic boys and a woman who has struggled with considerable mental and physical challenges over the years, yet at the same time continued to enjoy a wonderful career, I can encourage more women to join and remain part of our continuingly evolving industry.
These last 12 months have undoubtedly been some of the most challenging any of us have ever experienced and I have been delighted to be able to provide both practical and emotional support to my neurodivergent colleagues and friends within our industry who have maybe struggled more than most with the lack of structure and at times, unending uncertainty.
Furthermore, as a charity trustee for the Diversity Project Charity, I have been delighted to be part of an organisation that has provided additional emergency financial support to minority charities facing real crisis since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020 was a year when frankly all women in investment should be applauded – particularly those who have struggled to juggle care/domestic responsibilities at the same time as managing demanding careers.
In 2018, I was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome – an inherited disorder that significantly increases my risk of contracting many types of cancer. As a consequence, I had extensive preventive surgery in 2019 which resulted in the immediate onset of early menopause at the age of 43.
For the second time in my career, I decided to take a step back and reassess my life in its entirety – my family hopes and dreams, my ambitions, my friendships and my career.
During that process, I made an active decision to continue working in the industry that I have come to truly love and at the same time use it as a platform to start to focus on having a discussion within our industry about a subject that has been taboo for too long, the menopause - and its very real physical and emotional consequences on both the women it affects and the lives of the family and employees around them.
Since then I have delivered a podcast in conjunction with Logan Sinclair and hosted multiple webinars encouraging women to be brave enough to have what are often, very difficult conversations with their employers.
Now is the time! The investment industry is on the crest of a wave of creating a more diverse, more inclusive culture – and one that is more representative of the customers we seek to serve. It is also an industry which has a greater focus than ever before on its environmental and societal impact.
I have spent much of my career in an industry that for too long was not held accountable for its culture, its actions or its outcomes. As a result, the sector has not been as successful as it could have been in either attracting or retaining female talent. In 2021, I am more proud than ever before to be part of an industry that actively supports women from every demographic.
My advice? Look at ways, like I have, to combine your career with personal passions as a way of achieving happiness both at work and at home.