Mary has been the Chief Financial Officer at LR for four years. With a degree in physics, her finance career has spanned a number of global companies including PwC, British Airways, General Motors and defence companies Ultra Electronics and QinetiQ.
Why did you join?
LR’s unique heritage and the link with the LR Foundation was a big pull for me. Most of the organisations I have worked for before have been public companies, listed on the stock exchange, so the fact that everything we do supports the mission of the Foundation around safety is both interesting and motivating for me. It’s even more relevant as more and more businesses are considering their social impact. The other major attraction was the digital change journey we are on, so building on our unique heritage to modernise and adapt to the changing world and our customers needs today and in the future.
Why did you stay?
With my background in science, seeing the fantastic work our technical colleagues do for our customers is a constant inspiration. With my role in shaping our strategy it is particularly rewarding to work with colleagues across the business to ensure that the changes we make allow us to adapt for the future needs of our customers, whilst recognising all the benefits our heritage brings. Change is often a challenge, particularly in an organisation that has existed for more than 250 years, but you have to adapt as an organisation to thrive and grow.
Every day is also different. I am constantly learning new things about LR and our business, which I love and which is a great thing to do at any stage of your career. For example, I was in China during our celebration of LR working in China for 150 years and learnt that we had been in Shanghai longer than their historic Bund district and certainly most British companies!
What is your favourite thing about LR?
Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to work in really interesting industries, but shipping was new to me. I have been so excited by the opportunity to visit some of our offices and locations where our colleagues work, and particularly to visit shipyards including Korea and China. The sheer scale of the shipyard operation is incredible and seeing the respect with which our technical colleagues are treated is truly humbling. My teenage daughters also have the opportunity to make fun of a photo of their mother in full safety equipment!
What is your proudest moment at LR?
I work with the Leadership Team in developing and implementing our strategy, and as part of that have been heavily involved in the acquisition of businesses such as Acoura and Nettitude. This has brought additional capability and services into our business, adding cyber and strengthening food in our portfolio. It is fantastic seeing these projects through from the start, and watching as they come to life within the organisation
I have also recently announced a refocus of our finance organisation, to better support LR for the future, but also to provide a finance structure that allows the incredible people we have in the team to have more opportunity to develop their skills and career. It will enable colleagues around the world to move around more to different roles within the finance organisation as well as adding even more value to LR as a business.
If you were to give your teenage self career advice now, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to take risks! Early on in my career, when I was a finance pricing analyst at Vauxhall Motors, I had the chance to go beyond a pure finance role to run the company car and demonstrator fleet. More recently but on a similar theme, I led our Energy business for a period of time. In both cases this took me out of my comfort zone as a pure ‘finance person’, but it was a great experience and allowed me to develop skills for the future. Research shows that men will apply for a job if they think they can do, say 75% of it, and women if they think they meet 100% of the criteria. My advice would be to go outside your comfort zone, take risks and grab opportunities.
What change do you think would make the biggest impact on creating more gender balance in leadership roles?
Giving women the experience and confidence to look to develop their careers is key, and I have found mentoring programmes are a great way of supporting this. In addition, we need to make sure women are well represented on shortlists for roles. We need to look at all aspects of what is attractive in roles such as flexible working – do women find this important – if so we need to look for opportunities to provide it. Ultimately you want everyone in the team to feel included, to feel like they can apply for leadership roles which is why as a leadership team we are making sure we look at diversity in all its forms.