‘Aim high and don’t be intimidated by anyone’
By Tony Sanchez
In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Cathy Thomas, Director and Solicitor at Mason Thomas Law.
Cathy Thomas is the founder of Mason Thomas Law, a Sheffield-based responsive commercial property law firm.
She established the firm in 2019 with a commitment to doing property law better. She is one of the few solicitors in the UK to specialise in secured lending, working with both lenders and borrowers.
Her commitment to getting the job done and open lines of communication has made Mason Thomas Law popular with commercial bridging finance providers and property owners and developers across the region and further afield.
What brought you into financial services?
As a solicitor, I provide property legal services to finance providers and borrowers.
This area of our business has grown as there was a niche in the market for property legal services to be provided in a commercial manner and delivered quickly, for lenders and borrowers alike.
I work with commercial bridging finance providers like Bridge Help.
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?
A leader has to have a strong rapport and understanding of the issues faced by those who you are leading.
I believe that taking the time to proactively assist in a positive way will provide the people around you with the skills they need to be able to do their job, improve and expand their knowledge.
What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
The biggest barrier in my legal career experienced when I worked for other people was the inflexibility of traditional law firms to move with the times. It was this that inspired me to establish Mason Thomas Law.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
Trust your instincts.
What’s your own personal mantra?
Work hard, play hard.
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
Having the right team behind you that you know you can trust is key; this allows you to take some downtime without worrying that the world is going to collapse whilst you’re relaxing.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Take care of your team.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Aim high and don’t be intimidated by anyone.
What do you think is holding women back?
I don’t think there is anything holding women back anymore. I see everyone as equal and tend to do business with like minded people.
Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?
My advice to anyone who feels that they are being held back is to not wait too long before changing direction.
I felt held back by traditional law firms so, rather than waiting for things to change, I decided to set up my own firm and I haven’t looked back since.
What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter?
Whilst I like the principle and think that gender balance is a good thing, I think it is a shame that this is necessary in this day and age.
I believe that the best person for the job should get it, despite gender or any other differential.
How do we encourage more women into financial services?
We are an all-female team at the moment which, whilst not a deliberate decision, hopefully speaks for itself!
Women need to be confident in their approach, and that will shine through and show that they are as capable as anyone else at doing the job.
One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic is a wider approach across all sectors to accept flexible working as a way of life now.
Many women are the main person in a family unit responsible for childcare responsibilities, so opportunities to work flexibly where possible are undoubtedly going to be well received and create more opportunities.
The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?
Organisations need to look at the contribution that all individuals make to their business, assess this on a frequent basis, whilst rewarding and offering new opportunities where necessary.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
This has to be setting up our business – Mason Thomas Law. It has taken a lot of hard work but is hugely rewarding and I certainly haven’t looked back!