Roz Cawood, managing director of property finance at StreamBank

'Remain resilient, seek out mentors, and never underestimate the power of your voice and presence'




My journey in the specialist finance industry spans nearly four decades, although I'll admit, it's sometimes surprising to realise just how long it's been.

Throughout my career, I've been a staunch advocate for equality, firmly believing that everyone, regardless of gender, deserves equal opportunities and treatment.

Reflecting on my younger self, I can now see that I may have been somewhat oblivious to the disparities between how men and women were treated in the finance industry, which was predominantly male dominated.

It wasn't uncommon for me to find myself as the lone woman in a room full of male business owners or managers — unfortunately, instances of gender bias were not uncommon, such as being overlooked for a management trainee scheme early in my career simply because it was assumed I would soon prioritise family over work.

Despite facing such obstacles, by the age of 25, I had risen to the position of head of operations at a specialist lender, overseeing a team of 34 employees — however, even then, I encountered dismissive attitudes, as evidenced by an audit report referring to me as "a young girl" running the operation.

These challenges have undoubtedly shaped my resilience and determination, especially as I balanced a demanding career with raising two children, yet, my passion for the industry has always remained unwavering, driving me to persevere and succeed.

In recent years, I've dedicated myself to initiatives aimed at promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within the finance sector.

Collaborating with organizations like AMI on projects such as the Working In Mortgages Project has allowed me to address taboo topics like menopause in the workplace while also serving as a mentor to others.

Recognizing the importance of representation, I actively engage in events like the Women in Real Estate Finance network, where I share my experiences and insights to inspire future generations of women in the industry.

Transitioning into my new role as managing director of property finance at StreamBank, a challenger bank, presents an opportunity to foster a positive EDI culture and serve as a role model for others. Leading a sales team and driving strategic initiatives, I am committed to leveraging market trends to support business growth while ensuring inclusivity at every level of the organization.

Outside of work, I've embraced personal challenges like training for the London Marathon, using the opportunity to raise funds for causes close to my heart, such as cancer research.

 As my children have grown more independent, I've found fulfilment in pushing myself beyond professional boundaries and making a positive impact beyond the boardroom.

For women aspiring to enter or navigate the specialist finance industry, my advice is to remain resilient, seek out mentors, and never underestimate the power of your voice and presence.

By supporting and uplifting one another, we can continue to break barriers and create a more equitable future for all in finance.

 

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