Claims Consultant and winner of Insurance Leader of the Year at Women in Finance Awards 2017
When I heard that I'd been nominated for Insurance Leader of the Year at the Women in Finance Awards, I was initially very shocked. My first awareness of the awards was the email to say I'd been shortlisted. Having read the list of nominees, I felt humbled to be considered with such an inspiring list of female leaders.
In the lead up to the event I never expected to win. Truth be told, the thing I looked forward to most was the opportunity to network with so many influential and inspirational women.
As the evening started I was so nervous that I even passed on the champagne for iced water but as the evening wore on I started to relax.
As the award was announced, at first it didn't sink in. I looked at the screen almost in disbelief. Once everyone started to look at me and cheer, I realised that it was actually me that had won. I didn't have to give a speech on the presentation (although I did rehearse one); but when I was whisked away to talk to camera, the opportunity to say what I would have then arose.
Whilst looking for inspirational quotes for my speech, one of my favourites was from John Maxwell: "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way".
When I started my transition as a transgender woman working with LV= on 15th July 2012, I moved to a new town, a new job and knew no one. I was terrified on my first day, so much so I nearly had a panic attack (a first for me). But the team and my manager have been amazing since day one. They just accepted me for me. They've since said that they were just happy to have someone on the team to share the workload. I'm sure most of that is true!
At LV=, people are treated with respect, dignity and they are allowed to bring their whole selves to work. I wasn't hiding anymore and since then I've thrived.
I've been instrumental in effecting change for transgender colleagues and clients, from policies and guidelines; making recommendations on legislation; and advising on how we as a business can be more trans-inclusive. In addition, I've been an integral part of our Pride Network.
Outside of LV=, I run two support networks for the LBGTQ community, am in the process of setting up a third and I am also Co-Founder of Communi-T, a Transgender social support network in Bournemouth.
Supporting others and trying to make the world a better place has been the most rewarding part of my transition, and I think I may have lived up to that quote from John Maxwell. I hope so anyway.