'Don't be afraid to do what makes you happy'

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TODAY International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme this year is Choose to Challenge.

We caught up with three key members of the Stonehage Fleming team in Jersey to hear about how best to challenge bias, the things they have faced as working women over the past year and what advice they might give to younger women at the start of their career in Jersey in 2021.

Monika Osiak

Monika joined the Stonehage Fleming Group in 2008 and is a senior associate in the Family Office division. She is responsible for the administration of a portfolio of structures held for high-net-worth clients. Monika has a master’s degree in history of art, qualified with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in 2012 and holds an ICSA certificate in offshore finance and administration. Monika is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

It is vital that women support rather than compete against each other

As women in business, our success depends on it. Without each other’s support, we are in danger of talking about, but never actually achieving, our full potential. Real queens fix each other’s crowns.

More flexibility is essential to uplifting women in the workplace

Employers should not require an explanation as to why an employee wants to work from home, as long as they get the work done. Lockdowns have shown us that even with both parents working from home, the majority of the duties fall to women. Support from employers to work flexibly is invaluable.

Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help

During the pandemic, combining work and home-schooling has been my biggest challenge. I could not have managed without the support of my line manager. Being a working parent has honed my ability to prioritise and lockdown has made that even more important – determining what requires your urgent attention at a given time.

For our clients, the pandemic has helped them to realise the importance of family

While wealth is important, it has taken a back seat during the Covid crisis. Many of our clients live a truly global lifestyle with family members dotted around the world. Not being able to travel to see each other has been difficult for them.

I would tell my younger self starting out in work to embrace change and plan ahead

If you want to combine a career with raising a family, I recommend you think ahead. If you lay the groundwork, the rest will follow. The other thing is that Jersey is a great place to live and work, with many interesting career opportunities. Embrace them as they present themselves – don’t limit yourself, even if it means change.

Camilla Stoneman

Camilla joined Stonehage Fleming in 1999 and is a senior associate in the Family Office division. She is responsible for the administration of a portfolio of structures held for high net worth clients. She qualified with the Chartered Governance Institute in 2005 and holds the STEP Advanced Certificate in UK Tax for International Clients.

Choosing to challenge means calling out gender bias wherever you see it

It includes standing up for yourself and supporting others if you feel they aren’t receiving equal treatment. For me, it also means seeking out and celebrating women’s achievements. Days like International Women’s Day are very important to highlight what we are doing and what more needs to be done.

Keeping my mental health in check has got me through the challenges of the Covid pandemic

Stonehage Fleming is supportive to its employees and we have had regular check-ins with the team. During the first lockdown, though, with two young children, I found juggling home and work life overwhelming at times. I decided to take advantage of the milder weather and started running which I hadn’t done for ages. It really helped to clear my head and stop overthinking things.

For our clients, their biggest concerns were around us being able to operate business as usual

Many wanted the reassurance that they would be able to contact us as normal. We had to think outside the box sometimes to get around that – using technology to change the way we work. New practices allowed us to provide a seamless service and will now stay in place.

To young women starting their careers in Jersey, I would say: believe in yourself

Believe in your abilities. You are capable of so much more than you think. Don’t be afraid to do what makes you happy. If you don’t, ten or 15 years later, you might look back and ask yourself ‘why?’. You might disappoint yourself.

Tatiana de Sousa

Tatiana joined Stonehage Fleming in 1997 and is a senior associate in the Family Office division. She is responsible for a number of international high-net-worth clients, working with their families and advisers. Tatiana has also had exposure to a great number of the different facets of the group’s business, including being closely involved in information technology and business application software, business process development, data management, client accounting, compliance, governance, corporate secretarial and risk. She is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

For me, choose to challenge means defying stereotypes

It will help to create an inclusive world where organisations are challenged to promote, support and retain women within their ranks and, ultimately, to create a world where there is no gender inequality. To achieve all this, women must back each other up when needed, work at being approachable to each other and be available to offer help.

I have struggled with the loss of freedoms that Covid has brought

I have overcome the restrictions by staying in regular contact with friends and family. I have also been disciplined about taking time out for myself, ensuring I take a proper lunch break, being careful not to work too late just because your computer is there staring you in the face. These things sounds simple but are definitely easier said than done.

Many clients have struggled with the uncertainty the pandemic has brought

Like everyone, they have found the lack of clarity difficult – not knowing when the situation would come to an end. Many have relied on us to be there as a sounding board to bring their family challenges and concerns to. Whatever the issue, we can always find someone to help.

My advice for women entering the workplace in Jersey is not to be afraid to speak

Young women need to be supported to find their voice in business and IWD is all about supporting them to do so. Young women who are passionate about what they do should be confident in themselves and their own abilities.

#choosetochallenge

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