The winners of the Powerwomen Awards 2023 – London
Citywealth puts under the spotlight the Powerwomen Awards 2023 winners who not only have had a successful career progression but have also been active, together with their firms, in maximising the potential of women in wealth.
Introducing (some of) the Powerwomen 2023 winners
Charlotte Hill, Penningtons Manches Cooper – Woman of the Year – FinTech/Crypto Innovation – UK – GOLD Award:
Charlotte started practicing law straight out of law school in 2010. She qualified into a boutique litigation firm in 2013 and moved to PMC in 2016 to gain a wider breadth of international litigation expertise. She is now a Senior Associate and Solicitor Advocate, leading PMC’s international Crypto/ Digital Asset Disputes team. Charlotte says: “It’s been a whirlwind journey and I have loved every minute of it!”
Laura Knight, Andersen – Career Initiative – BRONZE Award:
Laura started out as an accountant and made a natural move into tax. She made the move at 30 to get a London job as a now or never, and specialised in UK tax relating to offshore matters. 12 years later after a short career break and with a personal interest in Crypto, she decided to specialise in tax on crypto assets and set up a joint venture. She then got the opportunity to move to Andersen last year to utilise her tax experience and she feels she is pursuing a career that she loves.
Gwenllian Le Blond, IQ-EQ – Woman of the Year – Future Leaders – Senior Associate/SVP – IFC – SILVER Award:
Gwenllian’s career in the fiduciary services industry began over 20 years ago in an Accounting function, after which she moved into administration and within 12 months she completed her STEP Diploma. She went on to work for a large law firm in dispute resolution, where she dealt with the largest court case to go through the Guernsey Courts. Transitioning into Corporate Services two years later, she soon received ICSA’s Corporate Services Officer of the Year Award. Today she is Senior Manager of Corporate Services for IQ-EQ, managing a team of five.
Alex Gardner, Affinity – Woman of the Year – Business Growth (Boutique) – BRONZE Award:
In 2006, Alex started as a Corporate Services Assistant Administrator on the Isle of Man. She thoroughly enjoyed her role and decided to forge a career in the industry. She joined Affinity Group as Senior Administrator in 2015. Thanks to a strong team and the training and development opportunities on offer, she progressed to her current position as COO and now oversees multiple aspects of the business across all jurisdictions. She strongly believes that Affinity’s commitment to growth and empowerment of their team has been pivotal in her career growth.
Powerwomen in the workplace (and the firm behind them)
“To coincide with International Women’s Day, IQ-EQ launched ‘Elevate’, a bespoke women in leadership development programme combining self-study, mentoring workshops and one-to-one meetings, available to all women at the firm,” reveals Gwenllian. “We have also signed several clients up to our IQ-EQ Launchpad initiative, providing a suite of services designed to overcome the specific challenges faced as a first time woman fund manager. Finally, in the last year IQ-EQ Guernsey alone has promoted three women to and employed four women at Director level.”
“At Affinity we undertake multiple initiatives focused around supporting women in the workplace. Such initiatives include, among others, a generous maternity policy and supporting women with families through flexible working hours,” explains Alex. “This year we also have various female team initiatives planned, such as a netball tournament in the spring and we are exploring the idea of doing a female boot camp and self-defence classes. Above all else, the biggest example I have of how we support women in the workplace is not ad hoc initiatives which we undertake throughout the year but rather how we operate every working day. We support women by giving them every opportunity to flourish within the Company, by not identifying people by gender but rather talent, ability and aptitude. Affinity can demonstrate a proven track record for bringing young, talented, enthusiastic people in and giving them every opportunity not only to develop personally but also professionally. This opportunity is available to everyone regardless of gender. Our leadership team is 50/50 men and women which we believe demonstrates to our team members our workplace culture.”
Sharing some highlights from 2022 which can demonstrate what Penningtons Manches Cooper is doing for women in the workplace, Charlotte confirms: “Penningtons Manches Cooper has an agile working policy which provides real flexibility for all and has been particularly helpful to those with families – it has meant that a lot of our females haven’t had to go part time, or stop work altogether and have instead been able to manage work around their home commitments, showing that you really can have it all! We also have a gender committee who are great in helping to promote gender equality across the firm – they highlight key dates, raise awareness and educate members of the firm on core issues which impact people of all genders. The firm signed the Women in Law Pledge which continues the firm’s commitment to support the progression of women into senior roles in the legal profession by focusing on retention and promotion opportunities, and sets clear plans and targets around gender equality and diversity at PMC.”
Laura focuses on flexibility around working hours and the possibility of working from home offered by Andersen: “We have embraced flexibility as we are able to work from home at Andersen. It has meant reduced time spent travelling. It also opens up the possibility to do our working hours where we want or need to be, working around school runs/clubs/walking the dog etc.”
Maximising the potential of (female) teammates
“As a female leader, I take it upon myself to ensure female colleagues feel valued and important to our company,” says Alex. “Affinity’s culture allows the development and progression of people regardless of factors such as gender. This is not a formal policy as such but rather a trait in identifying people’s true value regardless of factors which we see to be irrelevant. I have an open-door policy and want our workplace to be one where female employees feel empowered, speak their minds and support one another. We prioritise inclusivity and promote one-to-one communication, collaboration, mentoring and coaching. Our support structure includes regular feedback and guidance in a non-judgmental environment, where we focus on personal growth, confidence and skill development. At Affinity, we often say people are our most important asset – and with 66% of our workforce women, maximising their potential is critical to our collective success.”
Charlotte specifies: “Law firms are very traditional and are typically male-heavy, especially as you climb the ladder. We are very conscious of this and, while we carry out ‘blind’ application procedures to avoid any form of unconscious bias during recruitment, we do all we can to ensure that our team is as diverse and inclusive as possible – this includes women. We also have excellent agile working and parental leave policies which helps alleviate the issues that women find when they start a family – already this year we have had two of our male associates take parental leave to look after their newborns while their female spouses returned to work.”
“We ensure that opportunities are made available for team members to play to their strengths and to progress their careers as they choose,” comments Laura. “One of the adopted measures consists in supporting lifestyle choices whilst balancing the business needs. The openness for discussions around this and around the challenges we sometimes face is part of the day to day and has broken down the barriers for a better work environment.”
“In my team I work hard to promote the professional profile of our women,” says Gwenllian. “I encourage them to boost their internal and external networks and help facilitate this by engaging them in my dealings with our clients and business partners and ensuring they are known by senior colleagues in the business. I applaud their efforts and successes at every opportunity, boosting their confidence to aim higher. I try to be an ambassador for both backing yourself and for being a woman supporting women.”
How to overcome difficulties in the workplace and aim at a successful career? Our Powerwomen 2023 winners recommend…
… to believe in yourself and your abilities. Remember that you are there for a reason and try to have confidence in your skills and experience. Be bold, speak up, take risks and seek opportunities for growth and development. Build a support network of mentors and allies and surround yourself with positive influences. Remember that setbacks and failures are opportunities for learning and growth. Keep pushing yourself, focus on your goals, and never give up on your dreams. Alex Gardner, Affinity
… ‘not to dress for your day, dress for the day you want’ – by this I mean that if you want something, you have to be prepared to go out there and get it; you have to promote yourself and present yourself in the way you want to be seen. Finally, make it a priority to establish supportive relationships with women both inside and outside of your organisation. We are all in this together. Gwenllian Le Blond, IQ-EQ
… that if you have the opportunity for a pause moment, or career break, then grab it with both hands. I was lucky to not have to juggle home school vs working during covid as I had taken some time out but that break helped me come back more focussed, reinvigorated and balanced with home vs work (although as many people know, some days it’s more of a juggle than a balance). It has meant that I had time to think about the work I wanted to do more of and the things I wanted to do less of. I have now been able to use the international tax and investigations work but specialising in tax on crypto assets which is where my passion is. I have a career that I love, using skills learned and always embracing new challenges. Laura Knight, Andersen
… to keep trying: perseverance is key – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Charlotte Hill, Penningtons Manches Cooper
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