‘Be nothing other than yourself’
By Tony Sanchez -
In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Katie Snodden, Business Development Manager at Bridge Help, a short-term commercial finance company that specialises in complex deals and is based in Derbyshire.
Katie joined the business in 2021 after spending a number of years in the transport and logistics sector.
Joining Bridge Help signaled a return to her first love – the financial services sector. Katie began her career 20 years ago working in a chartered accountancy firm in London.
What brought you into financial services?
My first job was in London working for a large chartered accountancy firm. I loved it but was tempted away for a few years when I made the move to Derbyshire.
I then started working in the transport and logistics sector which gave me a strong background in client management and delivering solutions.
Covid then hit and I was furloughed. Having the time at home made me realise that my work life balance wasn’t right.
I have a young toddler and when I saw the role with Bridge Help it just made sense. Combining financial services and flexible working, I felt the role was made for me.
Coming back into the sector was like I’d never been away. I love the challenge and variety of the role every day.
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular women leaders?
Regardless of what gender, a good leader provides inspiration and direction, and leads by example.
They also support your career development and ambitions. As well as being a Business Development Manager, I have also been given the opportunity to get involved in the marketing of Bridge Help which is further building my skillset.
What are the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
The volume of lenders and constantly dropping rates is one of the biggest challenges myself and my colleagues face in the sector right now.
You’ve got to make a choice – do I join the race to the bottom or, do I step back and find my niche? I’m pleased to stay Bridge Help did the latter.
We focus on service and relationships and doing the specialist deals volume lenders avoid.
Taking this approach enables me to have the work/life balance I need and ensures I continue to enjoy being in the sector.
If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now, what would it be?
Be nothing other than yourself. Client management, regardless of the sector you are in, is all about building a good relationship and the foundation of that is being genuine and 100% yourself.
What’s your own personal mantra?
20, even 10 years ago, I might have answered this question differently, but juggling a career with the challenges of a toddler my daily mantra has become ‘keep going, even if it’s small steps going in the right direction.’
What do you think is key for finding a successful work-life balance?
Firstly, having the right employer – one which is supportive and understands that work and home life are often intrinsically linked, is critical.
The pandemic has definitely made us all more understanding and aware of family life.
Sometimes, with colleagues and brokers who have young children like me, we’ll prioritise some early evening family time and instead arrange to meet up on Zoom after we’ve put the kids to bed.
Flexibility is key to a successful work-life balance.
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Leadership goes far beyond just having the job title; you must actively demonstrate it.
This means leading by example and supporting the people around you and not asking them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Have confidence in your ability. It’s important to believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you.
Never measure your success against that of other people. Your success is specific to you and what is happening in your life.
Remember that and be proud of everything you achieve as it will mentally boost you.
What do you think is holding women back?
I wish it wasn’t the case in 2022, but women still take on the majority of family and home responsibilities and because of that there is a shortage of female role models.
It’s very much a male dominated industry, that said three quarters of the business development managers at Bridge Help are female.
Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?
I’d like to think not.
What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter?
It’s disappointing that we even need a charter such as this in the 21st Century.
I love the industry and love working in it, but I don’t like the fact the government has had to take such formal action to achieve gender balance at all levels across financial services firms.
The Charter is spotlighting an issue though and for that I am grateful, particularly for future women entering the sector. My daughter, for instance, could be one of them.
How do we encourage more women into financial services?
One good thing to come from Covid is that work isn’t 9-5 and it doesn’t always have to be face-to-face, which means flexible working is possible for many businesses in the sector.
We need to promote female success. It’s great to see the women working in the sector being showcased by Bridging Loan Directory.
The gender pay gap is only second worst to the construction industry. What can organisations do to address this?
Quite simply, pay equally and fairly regardless of gender, age, etc.
Pay should be based on the value that the individual brings to the organisation as indeed the Equality Act 2010 states. It’s a legal obligation.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Being a mum and balancing that role with my career is a daily achievement.
I am proud of myself for effectively starting again in 2021 and re-entering the industry in the middle of a pandemic after a number of years out of it. It’s a decision I haven’t regretted.