Inspiring Female Leaders

To mark International Women's Day, we chose three of Skipton Building Society's Inspiring Female Leaders to find out more about them...

Rachel Fawcett - Chief Human Resources Officer

Who inspires you?

People inspire me - especially 'ordinary' people - most of whom are not 'ordinary' at all in my experience! I can learn something from most of the people I come across and get inspiration from how they deal with things, learn and grow.

What has been your biggest challenge to get to where you are today?

That's hard to answer because I genuinely don't think about them as challenges: what took the most adjusting to was making sure I could do justice to being a Mum as well. But actually I learned as much about leadership from being a Mum as I did from being a leader at work. Especially about creating the right environment, support and challenge for people to realise their potential.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To trust my instincts more, have more courage earlier, take a few more risks both personally and professionally and have a bit more fun along the way. For example, I wish I'd bought that VW Camper Van 20 years ago!

Samantha Banks - Senior Branch Manager

Who inspires you?

I have been fortunate to be inspired by my mum in my younger years, giving me a strong foundation. My first manager in banking invested time in me, which was a turning point in my career. Michelle understood what drives me and managed me accordingly, showing me nothing is unachievable if you have the right attitude and invest in those around you. Right now, my team inspire me to be the best I can be, allowing me to support and challenge them to be the best they can be.

What has been your biggest challenge to get to where you are today?

When I have been managed by individuals who have not shown they value me as an individual and the skills I have as a leader of people. These times have strengthened my resolve that investing in, and valuing, those you lead is crucial to a successful environment.

What advice would you give your younger self?

My advice would be to learn patience quicker, and to listen to others and consider their opinions before making my own known: 'seek to understand before being understood'.

Alison Davies - Head of Digital

Who inspires you?

There are many, but one recent inspiration is Martine Wright. Martine was a victim of the London bombings in 2005. She lost both her legs and, rather than become a hermit, she has spent a decade being the best she possibly can. A true inspiration.

What has been your biggest challenge to get to where you are today?

Taking risks. I've taken many, including buying a restaurant when interest rates were high. In terms of roles, I was asked to head up an eCommerce team when most hadn't heard of eCommerce. I've taken many risks on this journey and I'm pleased to say 90% have paid off. The other 10% has taught me so much.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Go with your gut instinct. Starting my career, like most, I was young and impressionable. I once had a manager who quite frankly belonged in Dickens' age. My heart told me 'get out' but my head couldn't understand why. After 9 months of hell, I walked into his office and politely told him I was leaving. My gut instinct had won and off I walked. From that point on I vowed to always go with what I believe is right, and look where I am today.

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