Getting back in…another of my career 9 Situations
Another pivotal moment was getting back into a senior role following having a child – at 41 years old.
As soon as I had my daughter, Alexandra, I set up a small consultancy and ran this until she was 7 years old, gradually building up the days and hours I worked with clients.
Once she was 7, I joined a start-up professional services firm as their Head of Sales and Marketing for 4 days per week (which lasted a month before I started working 5 days per week!). The pay was lower that I’d been making with my consultancy, but I saw it as a way of getting back it AND it gave me experience of working in a VC funded start-up.
I had always stayed in contact with my Citi colleagues, and one of them called me up to say that they had put me forward for a role (not to be advertised) with a leading UK bank. Or rather they had said, ‘if anyone can sort those issues out, it will be Jan Floyd-Douglass’!
The client was Barclays Private Bank, and the role was Global Sales Director. I had 6 interviews over 4 months, and then was offered the role. We increased assets under management (the key metric) by 45%in 2 years to £2.7bn.
The most significant factor was that I/we delivered, and people then ascribe this characteristic to everything else you could do in the business. I found that being perceived as a High Performer is pivotal to progression, particularly as men seem to be promoted on potential, whereas women are promoted more on performance.
They hired me both because of the recommendation and because, even though I had no experience in the Wealth sector, I had told them how I would neutralise the challenges and build the business significantly. They bought confidence – from a trusted source indirectly and from me direct.
Reflection: I had some people in my family and two close friends who advised me not to try and land the job because I was too old/female/had been out of the market too long/blah blah, and would be disappointed. I regarded all this negative ‘noise’ purely as a distraction and would not allow it to influence me on the premise that I knew more about me and my talents than anyone else. The final driver was that I was at that a single mother, and therefore had an even greater imperative to provide a great life for me and my daughter.
The postscript to this is that I landed my final corporate role at age 55 so don’t let people tell you are too old – or too young.