‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do’

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Naomi Little D&R Recruitment partners

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Naomi Little, Recruitment Manager at D&R Recruitment Partners.

Naomi joined D&R as Recruitment Manager in March 2021 after two years successfully building her brand within the lending arena.

Having joined forces with Director Rico, the pair dominate the specialist finance arena with their collective knowledge and stature.

Naomi has placed over £1.5m of candidates within the market and is on a mission to double her efforts within the next year.

What brought you into financial services?

Historically, I would hear “financial services” and instantly think only of the banking industry – Working within that arena never excited me.

When I fell into recruitment, I dabbled with various markets with no real passion but once I was introduced to the world of lending my whole understanding of financial services changed.

From that initial introduction, I was hellbent on carving out my career within FS.

What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?

In order to lead, we need to be exceptionally self-aware. A leader will pay attention to what is going on within them.

Unfortunately, some women will overlook their own desires and feelings, but a strong female leader will be grounded, self-aware, and lead their own success.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?

My integrity has been questioned, especially since I sit within a sales environment.

Males are never frowned upon for building relationships and interacting with clients in the non-traditional ways. There is no stigma surrounding men who “wine and dine” to win business or get ahead but being a female who simply wants to build a relationship with others in the market is still questioned.

My offers to meet with financial services professionals have previously been misconstrued and sexualised.

If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be? 

I would have put less pressure on myself to know what career I wanted to pursue. Take time, make mistakes and don’t settle for anything you feel less than passionate about.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Tough times don’t last; tough people do.

What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?

I would be lying if I said I had unlocked the success of work-life balance, but I am certainly on my way to finding the key!

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Encourage growth in others. Jack Welch once said “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Confidence is key. You will come across dominating males who will challenge you but as long as you remain confident, you will assert yourself.

What do you think is holding women back?

I would argue it is a mixture of two things;

1. Lack of encouragement – Employers seem to promote males from within more so than the existing females.

2. Women are too afraid to be ambitious due to preconceptions of the industry as well as past experiences.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Fortunately, there is no glass ceiling with my current employer and that stands with a large amount of the clients I recruit for. But that does not mean it no longer exists.

I have witnessed women with far greater experience get pipped to the post by males who are less skilled (and often more expensive).

Given I am a recruiter, I would say I am qualified enough to confidently say that gender inequality in the workplace is still apparent.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

If I am entirely honest, I was not aware of this Charter. Now that I am, I do have conflicting feelings. 1. We are in the 21st century, supporting the progression of Women should have been concluded years ago. 2. Lack of publicity surrounding this charter.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

Start advertising ALL the benefits. So often employers are less than enthusiastic to promote their company benefits and this is a major problem.

Times have changed, it is not enough to offer a basic salary and discretionary annual bonus.

I have had females turn down progressive opportunities with higher salaries due to the lack of information or structure surrounding maternity leave.

The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?

Stop asking candidates what their current salary is. More often than not, candidates are offered salaries based on their previous earnings.

This should not be a factor and I encourage candidates not to disclose this when interviewing.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

At just 22 years old I am proud to say I have placed over £1.5m in candidate salaries into the UK bridging and lending markets in just 2 years whilst battling with mental health issues.