‘It’s time in this industry to not just take a seat at the table but own it’


Mia House Hampshire Trust Bank WIF

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Mia House, Business Development Manager – South West at Hampshire Trust Bank.

Mia has 7 years of experience working within the specialist financial services industry, previously working at Castle Trust in Business Development.

She has spent the last 4 years at Hampshire Trust Bank as a Business Development Manager, specialising in managing the South West region.

Southampton born and raised, Mia is an avid football fan, and player, as well as a season ticket holder for her local team, and a keen golfer.

What brought you into financial services?

It was actually my parents. My mother and father have been involved in the property industry for many years (albeit on the development/investing side) and have made a number of local contacts during that time.

My mother heard through one of these connections of a job opening for a specialist mortgage lender at a very basic entry level. It was perfect timing as I’d already taken a keen interest in the financial markets on the side of my main job.

I met with Alex Upton, who has played a key role in my journey and who thankfully gave me the opportunity to begin my financial services career.

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

I work alongside a few great leaders and while they are all so different to one another, I notice some key factors that I believe make them successful:

  • They create a culture in which it is okay to make mistakes and also analyse information to achieve better results. The quality of our team and service keeps improving because of this culture set by our leaders
  • They have a strong understanding of how to get the best out of individuals and provide a tailored approach to each individual
  • They appear unshakeable and confident through hard times/decisions. Many throw in the towel or blame others but standing in the firing line and dealing with the hard conversations is what makes a leader shine
  • They highlight issues in the industry and set an example of making a positive impact

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

The biggest barrier I’ve found is with respect. I’m 26 years of age and I started in this industry attending events when I was 21.

In all honesty, being a female in this industry has been challenging, specifically at events and with certain male behaviour at them.

I have the pleasure of working with some great men in this industry who support me and I have full respect for but I know there are still a number of men out there who sometimes do not make women feel comfortable and must recognise that this type of behaviour needs to stop.

I also find being taken seriously is also another barrier. I work very hard on maintaining a positive reputation but at the end of the day I need to know my stuff – and more.

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

Wait before you react. I’m quite a passionate person and sometimes this passion can be overpowering when it comes to decisions I disagree with.

Knowing when and how to react has helped me overcome many issues I’ve faced.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Make a conscious effort to show up to your life. As long as I have put my best into the day then I can sleep knowing I’ve done all I possibly can.

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

Finding a healthy escape as it will refresh and relax you and should give you what you need to switch off before returning to ‘work mode’.

We have more experiences available to us than ever before, so get out there, challenge yourself outside of work and form healthy habits.

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

Do not stop until you get to where you want to be. Grow and learn as much as you possibly can. Do not underestimate that knowledge is power, power is wisdom and wisdom is understanding.

It’s time in this industry to not just take a seat at the table but own it.

What do you think is holding women back?

Being taken seriously is holding women back but it can be overcome with the right knowledge and drive.

Now, take gender out of it and ask yourself what is holding you back? Really look into this: it could be knowledge, opportunity, effort.

Really analyse where you want to go, look at those who are in those positions and see what you’re missing/not doing and then do it better!

The opportunities for women are there but you just need to work for it.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

I would like to say there isn’t, having dealt with as many female leaders as I have men on my journey.

What there are, however, are occasions where unacceptable behaviour towards women still takes place.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Interview feature? 

I look at all the inspiring, powerful, important articles each of them has written and it’s outstanding to see.

How amazing is it that we’ve been given this much-needed platform to showcase such successful leaders.

Thank you as well for the opportunity and opening the door for this powerful collection of women to shine.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

I was recently asked how to encourage more women into playing football and my answer is very similar: the more females we see at the top, in the news and leading the way, the more normal it will be.

I’m such a fan of anyone doing well and we need to keep this ‘women supporting women’ culture going; being a woman in the industry is hard and sometimes only women will understand this.

Of course, men supporting women is key too and we thank those who do.

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

We need to highlight this and educate everyone from the top down; we also need to have an open conversation where women feel comfortable to take part.

They have the right to ask questions but sometimes feel uncomfortable doing so; this is where it’s important to show that the conversation and issues are being taken seriously and that everything is up for discussion.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

So, in my home office I have two awards that are important to me. Firstly, my Rising Star – Lender award.

The fact that I’ve been recognised as a rising star in the industry and also that all my hard work has been noticed – not just by my peers but also by others – makes me very proud and grateful and consistently motivates me.

The other award that I have in my office is the manager’s award for player of the year in my ladies’ football team.

I played until I was 16 but had not touched a ball for 10 years when I started again last season and won this award. I wanted to win top goal scorer but that’s on track for this season, so watch this space…