Case study: Sam Smith

Sam SmithCEO of finnCap, the youngest and the only female chief executive in the City of London’s investment banking community.

When you were starting out in your career, did you envisage any particular problems or challenges because of your gender?

I did not think there would be any issues with my gender in terms of reaching my goal. There are challenges, which largely revolve around lack of confidence and dealing with aggressive men who dominate board rooms.

How has the reality panned out in comparison?

I have not really come across areas where my gender has been an issue.

Did you/do you have a mentor or role model? Is this important?

I think it is important and valuable to have a mentor or someone who can give you guidance, and it would have helped me, but I did not have one. I have a coach, which has been great.

Has your family situation had an impact on your career?

Yes – it has given me the drive to do it and the belief that being female should not stop you from doing anything you want to do.

What are the benefits that women can bring to the senior ranks of an organisation?

There are many, but the main benefits are: ability to negotiate, great listening skills, lack of ego and emotional intelligence.

In your experience, why don’t more women make it to the top?

I am not sure how much of it is due to women leaving to have children or lack of women coming through the system – I think the children factor is a very big part.

What do you think can be done about this?

Flexible working is crucial as is a tax system that makes it easy to have child care that encourages return to work and makes it affordable.

What advice would you give to a woman trying to reach a position of power in the UK?

Believe that you can do it! In my view, this is all that is required.

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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2014