‘Don’t try to be all things for all people’

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Sally O'Loughlin Lendhub

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Sally O’Loughlin, Credit Manager at Lendhub.

Sally has worked in the specialist lending industry for over 7 years, and currently works at Lendhub as a Credit Manager.

Sally joined Lendhub in April 2021 after previously working for Octopus Real Estate, where she initially joined the company as case manager and was then promoted to the position of junior underwriter.

As credit manager for Lendhub Sally is primarily involved in the underwriting of real estate-backed bridging, development, and other structured finance transactions.

What brought you into financial services?

My Dad. I started working in finance right out the gate.

I left school at 18 and my dad got me a job at his work, the Bank of New Zealand, manning (or womanning, I should I say) the fax machine.

I was responsible for collecting all incoming faxes (loan documentation) and scanning them in for the loan operations team to process – exciting stuff!

I then joined the loan operations team and so began my career in financial services.

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

A successful leader has a clear vision, is self-aware, assertive but respectful, is passionate about what they do, and isn’t afraid to surround themselves with people who may be better than them.

Same goes for men and women.

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

Institutional mindsets, particularly in the development sector.

Historically, male developers aren’t accustomed to working with women and, in my experience, it can sometimes take a while for some to ‘warm up’ to us.

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

Relationships are key. Build a network of people within the industry you work in, and also across other industries, for you to call on.

Whether it be to ask for advice or a professional opinion, business is about people, and you never know when you might need a favour!

What’s your own personal mantra?

Work hard, play harder.

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

Time management and playing to your strengths.

Don’t try to be all things for all people; focus on your strengths and outsource the others, that way you’ll find it easier to strike a successful work-life balance.

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

Talk less, listen more.

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

Don’t doubt yourself.

Women need to have the self-confidence to push for what they want and to be clear and honest with management as to what their goals are.

What do you think is holding women back?

Some women tend to manage their self-critical voices less effectively than men, or they don’t manage them at all.

The more active and livelier they become, the more powerful they are to affect performance at work, or any other area in life.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

I think there is. But today, as an industry, we are all more aware of it and in my personal experience I have always been offered the same opportunities as my male counterparts.

As women we are responsible for taking these opportunities and having confidence in our ability to succeed.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

Admittedly I had no knowledge of this Charter prior to this interview.

I guess my thoughts are the goal should be for all women to feel it isn’t necessary!

How do we encourage more women into financial services?

Provide meaningful work and purpose.

I believe most women tend to care more about the ‘why’ – a job needs to have a clear purpose and needs to connect with our personal values.

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

Allow employees to work flexibly to fit around family arrangements.

It’s an easy fix and is also a positive step towards reducing the gap.

It is not uncommon for women to work reduced hours to allow them to manage family commitments, which unavoidably reduces their income.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Probably relocating to the UK, from New Zealand, when I was 23 and starting a new life in London.