Q&A: Laura Collier - Head of Credit Control
1. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate women. It raises our awareness of the outstanding achievements of women across generations and is a time for us to reflect and appreciate the amazing women in our own lives and the influence they have had on us.
I think about my mum on this day; she was courageous, selfless and the strongest woman I know. Her memory still inspires me daily.
2. What comes to mind when you think of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, breaking the Bias...?
In an ideal world, there would be no bias, no prejudice and no discrimination of any sort. This is the world I want to live in. I don’t think this is a naïve view, and it is possible. We can all contribute to making a positive change and take action in our day to day lives. For me, this year’s theme is about taking time to think about what we can do to help break down barriers.
3. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Retired and planning my next cruise. Honestly, I still see myself working part-time as I don’t think I have the ability to switch off completely. I would like to be customer-facing, so perhaps a job in a coffee shop; good opportunity to train to be a barista!
4. Are there any women in particular that have positively impacted you in your career? If so, what’s one lesson they have taught you?
Two women have had a significant impact. Firstly, my mum, who taught me that hard work, effort and diligence will enable you to realise your potential and goals. Secondly, Scythia Cross, who was the Company Solicitor at Danwood and my mentor. She taught me that striving for perfection is unrealistic and can be detrimental to your mental health.
5. What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Your career is in your hands, no one else’s. You are empowered to influence the journey you take and the outcome. Set your goals, work hard, and don’t let bumps along the way detract you; learn from them and use them to motivate you, and have confidence in your potential.
I would also highlight the importance of getting the work/life balance right. The pandemic has reminded us just how precious life is; take time for you, your family and your loved ones.
6. Tell us about a stereotype you’ve had to overcome.
I began my career in the 80s/90s in the City of London, working for a number of financial bodies and investment companies. The culture in that environment was that women in business should wear skirts and heels; their careers were temporary, a stop-gap until they left to start families. It was a very male-dominated environment and opportunities were limited as women tended not to be considered for managerial/senior positions. I accepted this as a challenge and took the opportunity to prove my ability, develop my skills and raise my profile within the company - all in flat, comfortable shoes!
7. What’s the best thing about being a woman?
Everything. Be proud of who you are. You are amazing!
8. Do you have one highlight of your career?
My team are one of the outstanding highlights of my career. My ethos is ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ – and through positive leadership – this is what I endeavour to practice. I have set out to create a fair, unbiased and happy culture for my team where recognition is based on potential and ability, not on gender or what you are wearing.
9. What are the challenges facing women in business today?
Culture and attitudes are positively changing every day and there continues to be more focus on inclusivity and equality. That being said, the challenges facing women in business today are still real. There can be limitations, lack of opportunities and underrepresentation, particularly in certain sectors - discrimination, gender pay gaps and so on. The glass ceiling, which restricts women from taking senior leadership and executive role, is still a reality.
10. What are 3 key things you think are important to succeed as a woman in business?
- Have confidence and self-belief; work hard and be willing to learn and develop your skills
- Let your passion and emotion motivate you and drive you to succeed
- Support each other and draw on the experience of a mentor/peer