Vice President & Head of Europe– Attra
Question 1: Who is Samantha Pitchford?
SP: Samantha is a certified change management expert with over 15 years’ experience in leading large-scale programs and building diverse teams to enhance business results. She has the ability to translate business and technology needs into strategic business plans, across multiple sectors on a Global and European level. Prior to joining Attra, Samantha spent almost 10 years within General Electric where she held various Strategic Change Management roles. Including managing the carve out/separation program of the Swiss Consumer Financing business into a new standalone entity after the IPO onto the Swiss stock market. Samantha was a client of Attra for nearly 10 years and uses her experience in working with Attra, as well as, her combined business and IT background to now manage the Attra European business unit. Attra is an Australian IT services company which specialises in the financial services industry. Samantha holds a MSc in Global Management from The University of Salford, as well as various change certifications including PMP & PRINCE2.
Question 2. What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find most difficult?
SP: For me it is often quite difficult to take off my customer hat, as I was in the customer role for the majority of my career. However at the same time this is also one aspect of my job which I enjoy the most, as it gives me the opportunity now I am on the other side of the table, to understand our customers business and how best to offer our services to them in a way that will be most beneficial.
Question 3. As a female (young)leader or a woman working in the financial sector, what has been the most significant barrier in your career so far?
SP: Not clearly articulating what I was looking for and why with the right people.
Question 4. What is the best piece of advice given to you? Who gave you that advice?
SP: Many years ago Sarah Brummit an excellent executive leadership coach said you have a personal brand, it is up to you whether you manage it or not and that consistency is key for building a strong personal brand along with heaps of self-awareness.
Question 5. Who inspired/inspires (role model) you and why?
SP: I am inspired by an array of people, especially those that embrace change and manage to deliver in the face of adversity. Making the impossible, possible.
Question 6.When you began your career (many) years ago, did you ever imagine that you would be a (young) leader in a male-dominated profession?
SP: No… not sure anyone does?!
Question 7. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership especially in the financial sector?
SP: Having the confidence to step up and seize opportunities even if you are not 100% qualified and/or ready for the job.
Question 8. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders in financial sector? And what do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
SP: Value networking, it can often slide in priorities when busy but it is worth the effort.
Finding ways to bridge the divide between the old and the new in terms of people, skills and processes.
Question 9. Mentorship? What is your opinion about it? Is it necessary? Does it make a difference? Did you have a mentor when you started your career? Do you think it would have made a difference if you did?
SP: For me mentoring was more or a natural process, when I had a click with someone I would then try to evolve that into a mentoring relationship. These have proven to be the most useful, especially in terms of having someone to bounce ideas with or having people that champion you within the organisation. I think if you get an opportunity to have a mentor grab it with both hands, an old boss of mine used to say feedback is a gift. Meaning considering other viewpoints/perceptions may help to expand your thoughts and possible options.
Question 10. When it comes to gender pay gap, diversity and inclusion in financial sector: are we progressing, moving backwards or stagnated? Why?
SP: Hard to say without access to data, however the lack of female executives is still quite noticeable. This seems to be slowly changing which will in turn hopefully provide more role models as well as opportunities in the future.
Question 11.What is some of the advice you can share with (young) women entering a male-dominated profession such as tech or finance?
SP: Embrace opportunities that help to push you out of your comfort zone as that is usually where you can learn the most about new things but also about yourself.
Question 12.If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
SP: Put more emphasis on soft skills early on, as how you do things can often be key to success.