‘Life is a learning journey – regardless of your seniority within an organisation’

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Amy Crighton CG&Co

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Amy Crighton, who is joint head of CG&Co’s legal department.

Amy joined the specialist property receivership firm in 2019 to establish its in-house legal team to ensure clients consistently receive guidance tailored to their precise requirements.

Prior to joining CG&Co, Amy worked at global law firm DWF, where she was recognised by the independent Legal 500 ranking guide as a “key lawyer”.

What brought you into financial services?

After embarking on a career as a lawyer, I ultimately found myself drawn to insolvency and corporate recovery.

The reason for this is simple – I’ve always found the variety of businesses you encounter and the diversity of the sectors they operate in fascinating.

Down the years, I worked on a host of high-profile receiverships and insolvencies, including the administration of a Formula 1 team. I also worked extensively with the receivers of property developers.

All this experience stood me in outstanding stead when CG&Co invited me to establish their in-house legal team.

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

In honesty, I’m not sure that women need different qualities to men to be a successful leader.

Ultimately, it boils down to the breadth of experience they possess – and whether they have a desire to inspire others who work with and for them.

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

Personally, I can’t say that I’ve ever faced any barriers – and I consider myself to be exceptionally fortunate in that respect.

But, from what I’ve observed elsewhere, I do believe that women are sometimes not heard in the way that men are.

I’m hopeful that this situation will resolve itself as a constantly increasing number of women take their place in boardrooms both nationally and internationally.

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

Patience truly is a virtue…

I used to equate success with a quick win.

But the more experience I’ve gained, the more I’ve come to recognise that you need to have patience to see an idea through.

And that will ultimately determine whether it can be deemed a success.

What’s your own personal mantra?

Everything works out well in the end and – if all’s not fine – then it is not the end.

What’s more, this mantra works well both in business as well as on a personal level.

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

In short, it’s essential not to try to do it all.

Some years ago, I read something about viewing your work tasks as well as your home tasks as individual balls.

Some of them are made of plastic, while others are made of glass.

After that, you simply have to accept that when you are busy and you have a lot of balls in the air – both home and work – some of them might get dropped.

The key to a successful work-life balance is ensuring that only the plastic ones get dropped.

Learning what the most important things for you to achieve each day and ensuring that they get done – and accepting that some things won’t get done – is the key.

But I’ll let you know if I ever manage to achieve this…

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

Life is a learning journey – regardless of your seniority within an organisation.

I’m a firm believer that good leaders realise that they can learn from everyone and remain open to doing this.

It’s essential that you never assume that you will only learn from those who are more senior than you.

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

My advice can be summed up in just three words: “Believe in yourself!”.

Identify what it is that you want to achieve and never lose track of those goals and then allow your confidence to grow organically as you rise through the ranks.

Once you’ve attained a leadership position, be sure to enjoy your success.

And take confidence from the fact that you’re achieved this outcome through your own abilities.

What do you think is holding women back?

The short answer is that women are holding themselves back by not believing in themselves and their own abilities.

In this respect, it’s essential that women are not their own worst enemies.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Based on my own professional experiences, I haven’t experienced a glass ceiling – but I’m very conscious that they do exist elsewhere.

Many businesses have become much more open to flexible working in recent years which has clearly been beneficial to women.

But it’s perhaps inevitable that the role that many women choose to adopt as primary care givers will construct its own form of glass ceiling.

Nonetheless, there’s an inordinate amount being done to assist with this – including shared parental leave and flexible working.

And that makes me hopeful that any glass ceilings that still do exist will be shattered imminently.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

The establishment of the charter was an exceptionally positive move.

It makes a clear commitment to women, gender equality and, ultimately, to the benefits that these will undoubtedly bring to both this industry and the wider society.

As society looks to challenge “traditional” gender roles, it’s great that those sectors which historically have been dominated by men are now making this clear commitment to employing the best people for the job.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

I resolutely believe that positive role models are the best possible motivation for encouraging women into financial services – or any other sector, for that matter.

Consequently, it’s essential that women continue supporting other women at every opportunity.

And I think that this support needs to start very early in their lives – possibly even with careers advice in schools.

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

As a lawyer, I’d obviously advise all businesses operating in our sector to commit to promoting women into more senior roles when their abilities demonstrably make them right for the job.

What’s more, they also need to ensure that women are recompensed appropriately for their work.

This move will ultimately benefit their success and profitability by ensuring that female employees are consistently as motivated as possible to achieve the best possible outcome on their behalf.