What does your role as Skipton interim chief executive of home financing entail?
Skipton’s new home-financing business is designed around providing finance to help customers access the housing market, with a laser focus on getting more people onto the property ladder.
My role is to oversee our end-to-end customer-facing teams and our proposition to ensure we do everything we can to achieve that goal.
I love the complexity and problem solving that come with financial services
Combining the key elements across the Skipton group, from design, delivery and service to working closely with The Connells Group, means overall better experiences and products for our customers.
What are Skipton’s priorities this year?
As ever, we want to support more people onto the property ladder, by expanding and enhancing our proposition to target more first-time buyers and support broader homeownership and equality. We know the cost-of-living crisis is front and centre of our members’ minds so we will continue to provide support to those who need it.
What I haven’t seen in abundance are relatable female role models that have made me believe I can achieve
As a lender we understand the need for ‘greening’ UK homes, so we launched EPC+ at the start of the year. But we know greening your home can be daunting, which is why we want to support more people in financing the retrofit of their home, and to lobby the government to make this easier and more affordable for both homeowners and landlords.
We believe the process of buying a home shouldn’t be stressful, so we will continue to listen to brokers and invest in the technology that makes the homebuying process as efficient as possible for them and their clients, as well as for our direct customers.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date?
I had some imposter syndrome kick in as I stepped into my new role in mid-2021.
In a year of enormous pressure, my highlight is the teams coming together, being dynamic, changing our ways of working and delivering record-breaking performance
Market volatility erupted and it was a challenge to battle not only with the mental aspect of wondering if I was capable and deserving of the role, but equally with a market of ambiguity, where I felt a huge responsibility to protect colleagues, brokers and customers against service pressures, access to deals, notice periods, you name it.
And can you name a highlight?
In a year of enormous pressure, my highlight is the teams coming together, being dynamic, changing our ways of working and delivering record-breaking performance.
Change like this doesn’t happen overnight. The phrase that comes to mind is ‘turning a super-tanker’
At the same time, we were delivering new propositions, never settling for complacency and continually raising the bar. While I may have aged 10 years in the space of one, it’s a year I’m incredibly proud of.
As a woman working in the finance industry, do you feel there is equality in the sector?
Broadly, not yet. However, there are pockets where this is the opposite and I believe we’re making real progress. I also choose to believe that the desire and ambition are very much there.
Change like this doesn’t happen overnight. The phrase that comes to mind is ‘turning a super-tanker’.
We know greening your home can be daunting, which is why we want to support more people in financing the retrofit of their home
I’ve been fortunate in my career to be supported, challenged and encouraged by peers and leaders. But what I haven’t seen in abundance are relatable female role models that have made me believe I can achieve.
We need to see more of ourselves in roles across the industry, and that’s not just females but more diversity across the board — to inspire others to join the sector, push themselves for more, believe they can achieve and take personal risks, and to foster a community that supports and advocates for this.
If you didn’t work in finance, what other career would appeal to you?
Who knows? If anything, the past few years have taught me there’s intrigue and interest in many career pathways.
My role is to oversee our end-to-end customer-facing teams
I love the complexity and problem solving that come with financial services, so any change to this would need to continue keeping my brain ticking and learning constantly.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Assume positive intent. Having been the receiver of challenging conversations, naysayers and sometimes prickly feedback, this is a chord that stuck.
When an instant reaction may be defensive or negative, this stance has proven time and again to foster powerful relationships and be an enabler of real growth.
Year established: 1853
Address: Skipton Building Society, The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 1DN
In 1853, Skipton Building Society set out to help create a better future by providing a good place for people’s savings and helping people to own their own home. More than 160 years later, our purpose remains the same. From our people to the environment and the communities we serve, we’re helping to build a better future.
This article featured in the April 2023 edition of MS.
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