An Interview with Marie Williams, Lloyds Banking Group

Richard Speight 27.06.2016

We are delighted to feature Marie Williams, Head of Financial Reporting at Lloyds Banking Group in our UK Women in Leadership series.

Tell us about your career to date

Marie Williams Morgan McKinley Women in Leadership Series

I studied Physics at Exeter University, and initially wanted to be a teacher – so nothing related to accounting! I went to speak with a careers advisor who asked me what my strengths and interests were, which was helping and working with people – I wanted a career which was very people focused. She advised me to consider Audit – and the rest is history! I joined KPMG in 2001 and worked my way up the levels to when I left in 2014 at Director level. I was also People Director for FS (Financial Services) Audit of approx. 600 people: so I was the lead for talent management, people development etc. I then joined LBG as Head of Financial Reporting.

What is your definition of success?

I drive myself quite hard. Always. I’m a strong believer that you can always improve yourself and never be 100% successful as there is always something further to do BUT I do think success is having a goal and a dream and making it happen. I think there’s a lot of people in this world who focus on the things that they can’t do and reasons why they can’t do something rather than just getting stuck in and making it happen. Having a can do attitude can be the difference between success and failure.

Which three key words to describe you?

Ambitions, determined and fun.

As a leader, who is your role model and why?

I have lots of different role models for different aspects in life. I learnt a lot from a Partner at KMPG called Rees Aronson – he was a really good role model in terms of how he managed people, and his leadership style taught me about the kind of leader I wanted to be. He made a huge difference to my career and who I am today. Another, if a little corny – my mum. My mum has serious health issues that she has overcome, through sheer determination and positive thinking, against the odds.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?

There are so many that I am proud of that it is hard to pick just one. I was shortlisted in the Accountancy Age 35 under 35s list – where they list 35 promising accountants in the UK. I’ve also been shortlisted for the Women in Banking and Finance National award whilst at KPMG. But personally, it would be that I made Director at 32 and when I was younger I wanted to drive an Audi A4 by the time I was 35, I now drive an Audi TT so I’m still obsessed with Audis but exceeded my goal.

In your opinion, what are the key challenges for a female leader and how could these be overcome?

I think that the biggest challenge would be having a lack of female role models. There are lots of women working full time who have no children, but I think it would be good to see more women who have it all – the family life – and the successful career, and this should be celebrated more when women do do this. There can be a perceived challenge as a female breaking into the ‘boys club’ and by that I mean having your voice heard as a valuable addition and not a necessity, and tackling it is about making yourself realise how much you can add to discussion and decisions.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Enjoy the journey and don’t just think about the end result! I have been very heavily focused on where I wanted get to, that sometimes I didn’t appreciate the journey as much as I should have.

Does your current organisation have initiatives to support women in leadership roles?

Yes. We have lots of initiatives, including ‘Breakthrough Clinics’ which are very focused on female development. I’m also running a session soon, which is a Q&A type session for Senior Managers and above who have been promoted to role model them for future leaders – hopefully they will inspire women that it can be done.

What has been your biggest personal achievement outside of work?

Building a house – it was always a dream of mine. I saw a plot of land for sale on Friday night, looked at it on the Saturday and put the offer in on Monday morning. I then worked to create my dream house and love the end result.

What else would you like to achieve in your career?

I’ve promised myself that I will buy myself an Audi R8 with my next promotion, so that is the short term goal. The key driver for me at work is to help other people, so I want to ensure that all of my future roles continue to be people focused so that I can help people to develop their careers.

Do you have any final pieces of advice for women looking to progress their career?

Just say YES, take the opportunities that come your way! A generalised female trait is to look at a job specification and not apply because they don’t tick all the boxes, as opposed to a man who will just apply. So say yes, and give things a go - what is the worst that can happen?


Richard Speight's picture
Manager, Accounting & Finance, Bristol


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