For the first installment of our Women in Business blog series, we interviewed Angela Hiney. Angela is Head of Tax at Victrex, and kindly agreed to talk to us about her experience in chemical engineering and finance. This is the two-minute version for all of our busy readers, but we do urge you to take a look at the fantastic insights that Angela shared in the full version – click here.
1. You’ve had a really varied career – could you tell us a bit about how you have got to where you are today?
My educational background is actually in Chemical Engineering, which I studied at university, but throughout my career, I’ve tried to keep my options open and take opportunities to do as many different things as possible. This is what led me first to Deloitte, and then to my current role as Head of Tax at Victrex. This role is a perfect match between my experience and my location, as well as the opportunities it offered. Because it was a new role, I was able to come in and make the job what I wanted it to me – I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.
2.What career advice would you give to young women today?
Don’t be scared! Accept that other people’s circumstances are different to yours, and that you don’t have to follow someone else’s path. It is your perception of your own success which matters, not other people’s perception of your success. You also need to have faith in yourself, because if you don’t, who else will? There are plenty of people who will tear you down, but there’s nobody who will push you up for nothing.
3.A study by Robert Half UK showed that two thirds (64%) of UK finance chiefs say there are more opportunities for women to advance through the ranks in finance and accounting than 10 years ago – do you agree?
I definitely agree – I think finance is losing a lot of its traditional stuffiness, where there were narrowly defined roles. Finance professionals are increasingly acting as business advisors or consultants, and there is greater potential for flexibility, which benefits women in particular.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges women face in business?
One of the biggest things women have to deal with is ourselves! What I mean by this is that it’s difficult to find a balance that is right for you, and then be comfortable with that decision. It is fine to still be ambitious once you’ve had a family, and it is fine to decide you want to channel that ambition into raising children – neither is better or worse than the other.
5.What do you think are the differences between women and men in the workplace?
I think a key difference is that women have a different benchmark of success to men, perhaps because men tend to have more ‘set’ career paths. For example, if a woman were to opt out of the expected career track to set up her own firm which fitted around the rest of her life, women would be more likely to see that as success, whereas men might think she hadn’t quite made it.
6. Who is your heroine/female role model, and why?
To be brutally honest, I don’t have any! I believe in making decisions based on what is right for you – it is good to have people you respect, but you need to follow your own path. That said, there are 3 businesswomen who I greatly respect:
Jacqueline Gold (Ann Summers), Anita Roddick (Body Shop), and J.K. Rowling (Author of Harry Potter) Click here to see why
7. What is your hope for the future of women in business?
I definitely do not want to push people into jobs they’re not ready for just to tick a diversity box, but I do want things to change to allow more diversity in business, because the companies that are really successful are those embracing that attitude. I also think that it demonstrates strength of management, realising that people who think differently to you can bring value to the business. I hope to see businesses getting real value out of the Women on Boards initiative, for example, and I think it’s the responsibility of the women who do sit on these boards to really show the benefits that diversity can bring to a business.
Written by Florence Sturt-Hammond