Women in Business: 10 Ways to Achieve Success Regardless of Gender
Being a woman in the business world can be tough, but it's never held Jenny Campbell back. Here, she shares her advice with is4profit
Despite what many think, there is still a stigma surrounding women in certain roles and industries. Too often people focus on the negativity and obstacles that being a woman can present, but this should not impair your ability to achieve what you want. Rather than viewing gender as a constraint, it is imperative that you strive to be the best you can be while motivating those around you to do so too.
I have battled systemic prejudices from the very start of my career. I was denied a top tier ranking due to the assumption that I would leave work to have children, but I contested, defied my ‘Band B’ allocation and won. Ever since, I have endeavored to overcome any biases that have threatened my progression.
I left school in my mid-teens to pursue a thirty year banking career and have now risen to become the only female CEO in the ATM industry. A great deal of this success is down to an unwavering trust in my team and being allied to a relentless and persistent attitude. My company, YourCash, is one of the most successful ATM businesses in Europe. We now operate over 5,000 machines in four countries and command a turnover just shy of £30m a year.
Based on my experiences, these are my 10 top tips to achieve success, regardless of gender:
1. Never stop learning
You should always be striving to improve yourself by building your knowledge and skillset – you can never learn enough. The best business people know that they have to perennially adapt and find ways to re-invent themselves. I constantly set myself mini-goals: I wanted to be a qualified banker in my early 20’s and I achieved this by 23 after studying at night school for five years.
Even now I am in the habit of continually developing new skills. Even the most successful entrepreneurs are consistently learning and if you prove to be continually striving to improve your abilities, anyone who tries to penalise you for your gender won’t have a leg to stand on.
2. The biggest risk is not taking any
Don’t take the easy option just because it feels safer. Taking risks can feel daunting but it is far more rewarding to push your limits and inspire yourself by discovering what you are capable of. You can surprise yourself when you move away from your comfort zone and it encourages you to become more open minded. Taking over YourCash from the Royal Bank of Scotland was a huge risk for me as the estate wasn’t profitable, but I saw the potential and on reflection it has been the most worthwhile risk of my career.
3. Open your mind
It’s crucial to be open-minded towards new experiences and opportunities. A closed approach will shut you away from the chance to progress rather than helping you to reach your goals and achieve success. If you’re not willing to open your mind then you’re only hindering your own career. At YourCash, we are now exploring digital payments. Whilst this might sound odd as a business based primarily on cash, we know that choice is so important for consumers and put this ethos at the forefront of our company mentality.
4. Be the best you can be
Don’t let anyone else’s expectations deter you from being the person you want to be. Especially as a woman, people will make assumptions, underestimate you and expect you to behave in a certain manner. Know who you are and be the best version of yourself that you can be. When people underestimate you, turn this to your advantage and prove them wrong. I lived by this motto during my senior level banking career and felt a huge sense of satisfaction when people realised my true abilities!
5. Be aware of your weaknesses
Strength isn’t about knowing what you are good at, it’s about recognising your weaknesses and acting on them. Knowing when and how to seek advice and help will be far more beneficial for you and your business than the stereotypically ‘strong’ characteristics of stubbornly dealing with issues alone.
6. Know the value of your people
Ensuring that you are surrounded by the right people is very important. Your management team and colleagues should challenge you, support you and inspire you. Don’t be afraid of working with people who are different to you as they can add another dimension to your business and you can learn from each other. I’m lucky to have a brilliant senior management team at YourCash who supported me through two management buyouts. We work well together and they make me look forward to board meetings!
As a woman in business, never underestimate the advantage of being regarded as someone who listens. Whether you are dealing with customers, competitors or colleagues, people will respect and remember you if you not only listen to them, but also act on those interactions. Listening to people and knowing what they want is a powerful tool, it also helps you learn more as well.
8. Be inspired
It’s not just ideals that can be inspirational, people can too. Those that challenge and innovate by taking risks while remaining true to their values have always inspired me. People such as Dr Sharon Redrobe (CEO of Twycross Zoo), Lady Michelle Mone (co-owner of Ultimo Brands International) and the late Dame Zaha Hadid truly motivate me to be the best I can be. Channel the inspiration that people like this can give you and use it to continue driving forward.
9. Keep aspiring for better
Never stand still. You can always be better, there are always greater challenges and you always have more that you can learn. Keep aspiring for more and keep setting yourself those new goals to reach so that you continue to progress.
10. Prioritise a good work/ life balance
You have to remember to allow yourself the time to let off steam, indulge and enjoy yourself. In my spare time, I breed and show flat coated retrievers and find animals are the best way to forget about work worries and strife. Combining a career with a family life can be stressful and demanding so it is important to allow yourself time to do the things that make you happy. You won’t be the best you can be if you don’t find a way to enjoy yourself.
Jenny Campbell is Owner and CEO of European ATM business, YourCash Europe Ltd.