I started out my career in banking. It wasn’t a childhood dream but of a more practical decision based on the strength of the graduate programme and phenomenal training that came with it. Over 10 years, I learnt a huge amount, but I found myself looking for something more than just the commercial environment.
I joined the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) because I loved its values and the idea of attempting to help put things right, to level the playing field to tackle consumer issues, giving the most vulnerable a voice. It was the sense of justice that attracted me rather than the ‘Head of’ job title.
By the time I joined Registry Trust as Director of Operations in September 2017, I had 15 years’ experience in financial services in the UK, but I had never heard of the organisation before – I simply stumbled across the job ad. Again, what attracted me was the values – impartiality, independence, and informed decision making. I have always been someone that makes decisions based on what the facts are telling you rather than emotions or to please shareholders.
Debt is a very emotive subject, impacting real people’s daily lives and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But finding practical solutions to indebtedness still needs to be about ‘the head over the heart’. The more information and data available, the better. Covid-19 has brought this into the spotlight. While nothing could have precisely predicted it, in-depth data has shown to be the only effective way of tackling it. It’s shown people just how intrinsic data is to decision making, and this is exactly what we aim to do at Registry Trust.
Even now that I am a CEO, I often find myself saying: “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” That’s because I don’t believe that a career journey is ever really over or ‘complete’. For me, it is not about reaching milestones of certain job titles or levels, but more about an ongoing search for purpose. I also believe that, in order to achieve true fairness, we must constantly test and check our assumptions against new information and developments. The landscape is always changing and evolving and, as such, your career and role should be too. If you become ‘settled’ or ‘static’, you are failing.
Likewise, regulation and legislation needs be challenged according to new sources of data and new analysis and insights from that data – we must never fall into the trap of ‘doing things as we’ve always done them’. That is why the opportunity to join an organisation like Registry Trust which is impartial and can campaign for change from a non-political, non-commercial stance also appealed to me.
My advice to anyone climbing the career ladder is not to strive to be a CEO, but rather to focus on what drives you and gives you purpose. Don’t be afraid to stray off the beaten track when it comes to roles and sectors. Seek out opportunities you didn’t even know existed but that align with your values. Be imaginative and inventive. Covid-19 has taught us to expect the unexpected and it is likely that things will never quite be the same again. Adaptability will be more important than ever.
When/if you do become a leader, try to find common ground and joint purpose to gain influence rather than imposing your own perspective on others. In fact, surround yourself with people whose views are very different to your own. Diversity is vital to avoid one dimensional thinking and facilitate effective problem solving.
We currently have two research opportunities available for those interested in a career in the field of economic data. One is a Masters student project using our monetary County Court Judgment (CCJ) data to understand the effects of austerity via the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) Masters Research Dissertation Scheme, and the other is a University of Liverpool Geographic Data Science Lab PhD in 'Regional Inequity of Financial Vulnerabilities and Indebtedness over Time.' Find out more here.
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