The finance guru behind peer-to-peer lender Folk2Folk, and formerly of KPMG, Citibank and more, talks about seeking inspiration in nighttime running, her old vinyl jukebox and holding her breath and counting to 10
The outdoors is an important part of how you unwind and get your space. Every Monday night, come rain or shine, I go hashing [cross-country run following a trail set by another runner] on the moors [in Devon]. Unlike the other runners, I don’t know the moors well and running around in the pitch black with a head torch on, you do tend to focus on things other than your work.
Sitting at home with a log fire wouldn’t do it for me. It’s important to get out and about and interact with people, as that’s where you get ideas. I moved to Devon when I started working at Folk2Folk and not knowing people down here has meant I’ve had to do things like join tennis clubs and running groups.
I’ve got an old vinyl jukebox, which is great for playing some noisy music. I tend to listen to the sort of things one listened to years ago – Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Meat Loaf, U2, things that are really loud and can completely envelop you.
I’m a doodler, but not in a way that makes any sense. When I’m talking to someone and I can’t use my hands, I’ll be doing strokes, lines, crosses and circles, anything to try to express what I’m saying. It’s non-prescriptive and illogical but it helps get my thoughts in order.
Friends and family are a great sounding board for ideas. We all gain an awful lot from talking things through. It’s not that it always provides solutions, but it does allow you to sort the ideas out in your own head more effectively.
I love interacting with my children and their friends. The next generation is going to be amazing – they treat everybody the same, no matter their race, creed or colour. Everybody is equal, and I think the opportunities they have, particularly girls, are really exciting.
My biggest desire is to have an office dog. I could sit him quietly in the corner and I’m told dogs are very soothing for employees. The only trouble is everybody else would want to bring their dogs in – and that might be a bit of a challenge!
Usually, if I’ve got brain drain, I need sugar. And I have to confess I’ve got this craving for Maltesers most of the time. Crazy, but they do give me a pick-me-up.
We had a fabulous team-building day when we brought a chocolatier into the office. I’m aware we push staff to the limit and need to make sure we’re appreciative and reward them. We made our own chocolates and it went down a real treat.
Take a deep breath and count to 10. If something is challenging I try to make sure I don’t let my first reaction be the one that comes out. Press pause and make sure you have a real reflection.
If something is concerning me I’ll type an email but not press send for a few hours. It’s my golden rule. Snap judgments aren’t always the best ones, but they could be. I would say 50 per cent of the time I rewrite it, and the other 50 per cent of the time I’ll just press send.
I’m very anti-jargon. In the financial services industry it’s easy to tie things up with words and confusion. In the end, our customers need to understand the product you’re selling – they just want to know what they’re investing in.
The Great Escape is one of the most inspiring films for me. It shows the power of working together for a common cause and the sacrifice of individuals for the greater good, which I think is really key. And it’s also great fun.
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