‘Trust the process and what the mind believes it can achieve’

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Jade Keval Sales Director at SoMo Bridging

In our latest Women in Finance Interview, Tony Sanchez speaks to Jade Keval, sales director at SoMo | Bridging.

Jade is already taking strides in leading the company towards hitting a target lend of £75 million before the close of 2022, alongside further strengthening the sales team’s relationship with its broker network.

Having been at SoMo for five years, Jade worked her way up from business development manager to head of sales.

Jade’s sales director role is a new position created to keep pace with SoMo’s growth over the last 18 months.

What brought you into financial services?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been good with numbers and people.

When I left school, the logical next step was to start working in a bank, so that’s exactly what I did at the age of 17. I’ve been in the finance industry ever since.

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

I strongly believe some of the best leaders have earned their place by working from the ground level up, male or female.

One of the most important things a leader should have is an understanding of the roles they are heading, and the best way they can do this is by having been in them before.

Leadership situations where the manager has never been in place of their team just don’t work as well as expectations and abilities don’t always align.

I also think leaders, especially women, cannot be afraid to back themselves, stand by their decisions, and ultimately themselves.

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

In the early days, pre SoMo, being taken seriously.

With very few women in finance and with it having even fewer Business Development Managers, I had to work three times harder to prove my knowledge and be taken seriously.

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

Failing is okay. I’m a notoriously bad loser, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learnt my best lessons have come from my most astronomical failures.

What’s your own personal mantra?

I like to live by the mantra ‘trust the process’ and what the mind believes it can achieve.

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

I think people are optimistic to think that they will be able to find a perfect balance between work and life when they hold senior roles.

It simply doesn’t exist, but there’s not a problem with it as long as we know where to draw the line when work gets in the way of life far too often.

There have been times when I’ve had to take steps back when the two have clashed, but being able to notice and act on it is what’s most important.

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

A successful leader is able to not just manage the day to day, but ignite a fire in her team, spark the belief in themselves, their choices and plans.

Managing and leading are two distinctly different attributes.

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

Women are famous for impostor syndrome, believing they should not be in a particular role.

Know your trade, and back yourself. No one knows everything, no one has all the answers, but what makes us grow is the ability to learn and adapt.

I’ve said it before, but we have to stand brave with what we know and believe we can do.

What do you think is holding women back?

The one stand out for me is having to make the choice over their career or having children.

With the cost of childcare being so high, unfortunately, it usually falls on women to sacrifice their job in order to look after their families instead of paying nurseries to do so.

It’s a huge shame that in many industries a lot of talent has been lost due to women not being able to afford to work and raise children.

By making nursery places free for all workers, an influx of women would be allowed to come back into the marketplace and, in turn, be able to reach these senior roles.

Do you think there is still a glass ceiling?

Yes and no. Although it still exists, it’s not as prevalent as it used to be.

It varies from company to company, with some financial companies maintaining an old boys club mentality, and others being much more progressive.

Speaking from personal experience at SoMo, over half of the senior positions are held by women and I’m confident in saying it’s due to their leadership abilities alone and not an expectation to meet diversity targets.

What are your thoughts on the Women in Finance Charter? 

Anything promoting gender equality has to be a good thing and it’s great that companies are held accountable for possible existing gender inequality.

That being said, it’s a shame it has to exist in the first place.

How do we encourage more women into financial services? 

Financial services has always, and continues to hold, a masculine image.

The more women able to take up higher roles in this industry, the more the perceptions of leaders will change.

Young girls need strong female role models to look up to and see themselves in senior positions for them to believe it’s achievable.

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

Across all industries there should be clear pay scales dependent on roles.

It’s easier said than done, but individuals should be paid for the work they do, not their gender.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Having my son. Like I said, I definitely felt the struggles of working while bringing up my son by myself; at one point it actually cost me to work.

Looking back I’m enormously proud of what I’ve achieved and I’m not sure the 18-year-old holding the baby would believe I’d be 32 and in my dream job.