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Jennifer Read - E2W Risk Group

Jennifer Read - E2W Risk Group

katie.robertson / 16 Feb 2024

Jennifer Read is one of the founding members of our E2W Risk Sub-group. This Risk Group has been created to provide a support network for women working within the Risk function, where they can network, share and learn from one another. 

I started working in financial services at the age of 23 where I worked with Barclaycard. 

I didn't go to university and was encouraged to take the Barclaycard risk and compliance certification (in conjunction with the IRM - institute of risk management). 

I then went on to work for Royal London asset management and continue studying with the IRM by taking the 3 year post grad diploma in enterprise risk management (which I was accepted into due to having been in the industry for over 5 years by that time). 

Having gained that qualification I then moved to F&C asset management and then Royal Bank of Scotland as a risk manager for their equities & Derivatives business. During this time I worked my way up before having my second child and taking an extended period of leave (both of my children were premature, however my second was born at 24 weeks). 

I returned to my career after 4 years and worked as lead operational risk manager for Allica bank, a start up, which grew from 60 employees to over 250 over the 3 years I was there. I had a brief stint at a fintech payments service provider before moving to head of business risk at Goldman Sachs (Marcus). 

In my personal life I am continually setting myself challenges. Raising money for the hospitals my youngest lived in for her younger years by running ultra marathons (I ran from Carlisle to Newcastle - 70 miles, in 16 hours and 42 minutes), distance events and hilarious events such as organizing a zumbathon. 

I am passionate about breaking down barriers and misconceptions that only specific people can work in the FS industry. I firmly believe that diversity encourages different perceptions. It is key to have a broad range of voices around you, in order to grow and understand your ways of working and maintain a growth mindset.  

Quick Fire Q&A

When you retire, what would you like to be remembered for?  

The fact I could think differently and ask questions no one else felt they could. And always managing to surprise people

What has been the biggest challenge during your career and why? 

Believing in myself. It's so easy to listen to your inner voice telling you you're not doing something right or there's someone better. The truth is, yes there will probably always be someone who can do what you're doing in a way you might consider "better". However, it's the personal twist you put on your job which makes what you're doing unique and valuable. If you got the job, it's because you proved you can do it and they’ve seen something special in you. 

What motivates you?

My family, knowing that I'm providing for them and having a sense of purpose. Also pride, being able to talk about my career knowing I worked hard to get to where I am and I’m setting my girls a valuable example 

What makes our mission meaningful to you? 

Having not gone into a career in risk as a passion, I’ve often felt it was something I fell into. Now I realise I have a purpose in sharing my journey and encouraging other women who may feel polarised. It’s so important to encourage, share and learn from other women in our industry. In a corporate world where so many women feel the need to fight for roles, we need to be nurturing each other to create an inclusive, fair and pleasant environment. 

During your career, has there been a time when you thought “Yes, I’ve made it!”? 

Sort of, when I got my first senior manager role for a prestigious company, but I don't think I'll ever truly think "I made it" there's always something else to strive for. 

What book are you currently reading?  

I tend to listen to audio books whilst walking my dog, I just finished "lessons in chemistry", which was fabulous! Now I've gone to the opposite spectrum and I'm listening to James Blunt it’s bonkers and hilarious and a real eye opener. Not for the faint hearted or easily offended! 

What are your thoughts on the next generation of women in finance?

I'm intrigued to see what is built on from the foundations my generation laid. I came from the generation of "demonstrating overwork", where challenge was never spoken. Where we push ourselves to be online and available all the time. If someone asked for something the answer was always yes and never questioned, but my generation really saw an influx of women into the industry and the start of women being accepted in c suite roles (although there is a very long way to go) I see a lot of independence and strength in the younger generations and I really hope that that ability to question and challenge makes leaps and bounds with equality for women.

What keeps you going/motivates you?

Running, literally - very far when I can (families have a tendency to put a spanner in the long training runs), my "village" of friends without whom I'd go mad. Coffee, wine, kindness. Oh I suppose I should say my family too

Tell us about your first job in the finance industry?

I was actually a cashier in a branch of NatWest (technically financial services), then a few career changes later, I moved to Barclaycard to work within risk and compliance, my wonderful boss at the time was the instigator for me pursuing risk qualifications and furthering my future potential. 

The best gift you’ve received. 

True answer: my beloved Louboutin’s,

Smushy answer; my long awaited babies

Best career advice you’ve received?

The industry is a small place, never leave on a bad word. 

Next holiday destination?

Currently en route to France but I'm looking forward to some sun in Spain in August 

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