‘No level of individual excellence warrants undermining people’


Juliet Baboolal, Seddons, WIF

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Juliet Baboolal, Partner in the Real Estate Finance Department at gunnercooke.

Juliet is a Dual Qualified lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago and England with 19 years experience, background in litigation, civil mediator and Partner in the Real estate Finance department.

What brought you into financial services?

As a foreign qualified lawyer I needed to gain experience in an area of English law which I had not yet been exposed to in order to be admitted to the Law Society’s Roll of Solicitors.

An opportunity arose in the mortgage litigation sector and it was here that my journey into the world of financial services commenced.

My daily activities included researching case law on mortgage repossessions, consumer credit matters, drafting mortgage claim forms, attending trials and gathering evidence/information.

The regulatory aspects of financial services and enforcement were of particular interest to me.

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

A successful leader is one who creates healthy boundaries with her staff by modelling healthy behaviours and supporting a healthy work culture which inadvertently positively influences the organisation from the bottom up and keeps employees engaged because they know they are valued.

Female Leaders are nurturers and they understand that the valuable employees aren’t necessarily the smartest ones or the hardest workers on the team but it is the people who are thoughtful, reliable and reflective that add true value.

A good female leader will seek input and guidance from other women leaders in similar roles and not be afraid to see situations from varying angles.

Good female leaders are mindful and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

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

I was very lucky to have strong female mentors at law school but I would say the biggest barrier was the stereotype that a woman could not simultaneously be a good mother and lawyer.

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

I would tell my younger self ‘To do it afraid’ as discomfort was a true sign of growth and you will regret the chances that you did not take.

What’s your own personal mantra?

My mantra is that no level of individual excellence warrants undermining people.

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

The key to a successful work life balance is finding a job that motivates you and makes you feel alive and happy.

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

A better vision for a workplace is a community where people bond around shared values, feel valued as human beings and have a voice in decisions that affects them.

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

Never let short term failure distract you from pursuing your long term goals, success is always going to be achieved outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.

What do you think is holding women back?

Fear and self-doubt hold women back. We are in need of strong female mentors who provide that pastoral care for younger women.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Yes there is. Men are the ones in positions of authority and power

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

More needs to be done to progress this.

There appears to be a  general lack of accountability across the sector and without accountability  female leadership will not and cannot become a core business objective.

Firms have fallen short of focusing on their diversity agenda and need to actively and purposefully address this shortcoming to reaffirm the need for Female Leadership.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

It is a very common human tendency to gravitate to people who are similar to yourself which is why men tend to back other men when leadership opportunities arise and women are still considered to have low ambitions.

This underrepresentation of female leaders promotes the current status quo and it is only when women have power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women and we can then encourage more women into financial services.

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

Organisations need to be transparent.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement is the self-belief which I now have in myself that I can deal with absolutely anything that comes my way.

I undertake a phenomenal amount of balancing on a daily basis, I co-run an Italian restaurant in North London, I am a full time Partner, currently preparing my son for 7 plus exams and in the process of finishing up a master’s in construction law.