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IWD 2023: Growing up I saw that a woman could be a wife, a mum and have a successful career – Thomson

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  • 08/03/2023
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IWD 2023: Growing up I saw that a woman could be a wife, a mum and have a successful career – Thomson
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, Mortgage Solutions has spoken to women working across the sector about their journeys through the world of finance.

Katherine Thomson, commercial relationship manager at The Cumberland Building Society. She has worked in the banking sector for over 15 years. 

 

Have you always wanted to work in the finance sector? (if not, what job did you picture yourself doing?)  

KT: I fell into finance after completing my A Levels. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and got a job with a local accountancy firm. From that first job, I knew I wanted to work with businesses to help and support them in their journey and working as a relationship manager enables me to do that. 

 

How did you get into the industry? 

KT: My first role was as a tax adviser at a local accountancy firm straight out of school. 

 

Have you ever found it quite hard to fit in as a woman?  

KT: I think every job in a male-dominated industry poses challenges to women, but I was quite lucky, as my mum worked for one of the big five banks when I was growing up. I saw first-hand that a woman can be a mum and a wife and still have the career that she wants. 

 

Have you noticed a change in the number of women in the field since you’ve worked in it? 

KT: I wouldn’t say I’ve seen a change in the number of women working in banking overall, but I’ve seen an increase in the number of women holding senior positions within those businesses. The Cumberland especially has great representation in its senior team with over 50 per cent of its senior roles filled by women. 

We achieved this over two years ahead of our own target of April 2025. It means a rise of over 30 per cent in the number of senior positions occupied by women in just five years, which makes me proud to work here. 

 

What are the greatest gains the finance sector has made on gender equality? 

KT: There have been so many changes during the time I have worked in the sector but seeing the opportunities available to women and the diversity at the higher levels of the industry is fantastic.  Also seeing the flexible working arrangements for both women and men including paternity leave and shared parental leave gives a much better balance for families as well as a happier workplace. 

 

What would you say to encourage other women to join the finance sector?  

KT: Working in the finance sector is extremely fulfilling. There are so many roles and opportunities, something to suit everyone. 

 

How does your role fit or benefit your lifestyle? 

KT: I’ve got two young boys, and, with often long and intense hours, it can be difficult to strike that work-life balance, but the Cumberland is incredibly supportive and has a brilliant flexible working policy which allows me to have a work-life balance that works for me, my career and my family.  

 

What are your hobbies? 

KT: A lot of my time is taken up by my sons and their hobbies but as a family, we enjoy watching and participating in motorsport. We live in a beautiful part of Cumbria and enjoy being outdoors (although I admit I am a fair-weather walker). 

 

What improvements regarding gender equality would you like to see in the finance sector?  

KT: There is a very dated view that women in banking are cashiers on the shop floor in a high street bank. I think it’s incredibly important to inspire the next generation of women and girls at an early age to pursue careers outside of the gender norms and raise awareness of the positions on offer including shop floor, back office and boardroom. There are so many different roles and career directions that you can take in this industry and women have a place every step of the way. 

 

Which women in the finance sector or corporate world inspire you most?  

KT: There are many inspirational women in business, from entrepreneurs to those who have worked their way up within their industry. In my career in finance, I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing women who have inspired me and helped me to advance my career in the sector.  

 

What is a life lesson or piece of advice that helped to shape who you are today?  

KT: Be yourself and believe in yourself.  

 

How do you apply that to your working life?  

KT: I remember someone once telling me that people buy from people. It doesn’t matter which organisation you work for – people will connect to you as an individual, not the company you are representing, so always be yourself. 

 

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

KT: I am really enjoying my current role. We have a lot of development going on in the background at the moment, so it is an exciting time. I would love to continue working within the Cumberland commercial team, developing our offering for businesses across the UK.    

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