The Financial Guru
After leaving school at 16, Margaret Kennedy from Edinburgh, climbed the financial career ladder to become the first female regional director in business banking for the whole of the UK.
I am one of six children and I was brought up on a farm. I did a deal with my parents: if I got a job, I wouldn’t go into further education. I started at Royal Bank of Scotland when I was 16. I quickly realised that there was only one person that would help make me work my way up my career path, and that person was me, so I got my qualifications. As a female role model at the top of a business, you encourage more females to realise their potential. In years gone by I sat in boardrooms with men, waiting my turn to get my voice heard. I quickly realised that I have an opinion that matters, which is the reason why I’m there and if I leave without giving that opinion, I’ve failed myself. That’s what gave me confidence. When I stand up and make speeches, I say that I am a qualified banker and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers which gives me credibility. When I started, business networks in Scotland tended to be maledominated and, as a female, it was daunting. I felt you had to work harder to gain credibility than if you were a man walking into the same room. I am delighted to say that has changed now. Many years ago, when women wanted children, it might not have been possible to have a family and pursue your career. When I had my daughter (who is now 26), I came back to work when she was five months old as I was in the process of sitting my financial exams. If you wanted to progress in your career you had to go through those exams. Today, the Royal Bank of Scotland – and the industry as a whole – has done a lot, in terms of flexible working, to encourage females to invest and grow in their career and realise that you can have both. I brought up a family, sat exams and worked hard, but didn’t set aside time for that, I lumped it together. My advice is: surround yourself with like-minded people who will help you reach your goals. Work with someone you aspire to be like and invest time in your personal development.
‘In years gone by I sat in a boardroom with men waiting my turn to get my voice heard.’
Dress, £45, necklace, £15, all at Debenhams. Hair and make-up: Kayleigh Brock.