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The wonderWomen of the City

While the debate on gender inequalities within British companies has never been so frank, a few “ladies” have taken high-level positions. Who are these pioneers?

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Jayne-Anne Gadhia
She is a rising star in London, the perfect image of the bank she runs, Virgin Money, which is about to purchase one of three banks that will be created as a result of the restructuring of Lloyd’s RBS, and Northern Rock.
Chosen by Richard Branson, Jayne Anne Gadhia, 46, already manages more than 2 million clients and about 100 million pounds in deposits. She doesn’t hesitate to present a different analysis of the crisis uncommon in the banking industry: “The constant pressure on banks to boost their growth and market share, and ultimately their share price, was the fuel that drove the financial machine larger and larger.” And she explains that the reflection of the market guilt hasn’t been pushed enough.

Nicola Horlick
She is the tiger of the city, even if her official nickname is “Superwoman”. The banking environment was surprised to see this mother of five (one daughter deceased due to disease) set up her own alternative fund (Bremdean Alternatives), and rise from success to success (with a few resounding failures though).
Let go from Morgan Grenfell Asset Management a few years ago, Nicola Horlick, now 49, has gone on to meet with leaders of the parent Deutsche Bank along with cameras, live. She even brought in a journalist who she presented as her advisor during an appointment with the senior leadership. She doesn’t hesitate to challenge either: “When I objectively analyze the differences between women’s and men’s management styles, it seems to me that women are better organized than men, and pay more attention to detail (…) I have often observed that men had an ego that diverts them from the real priorities.”

Carol Galley
She hasn’t been as active these past few years, but Carol Galley remains one of the most eminent Superwomen of the City. Moreover, she is the head of a 75 million pound fortune, built during her dealings for Merrill Lynch in the 90s, then Mercury Asset Management, which she created in the 2000s. Carol Galley was a pioneer, the first real businesswoman in London. It was her who led the most homeric negotiations ever conducted in the Square Mile, the takeover of Forte Hotel Group and London Weekend Television by Granada. She now participates in many conferences on investment banking, and also chairs the Tate Foundation. She earned up to £8 million in annual salary, three times more than the highest paid women today, and in a more sexist environment than todays. When she began stepping back, this woman, now in her 60’s, allergic to interviews, said she had “spent 100% of her time in this business” and had never been able to “think of anything else.”

Vimi Grewal
The director of the investment arm of Deloitte was none other than the major operator in the integration of Lehman Brothers into Nomura, following the bankruptcy of the U.S. investment bank. “I didn’t see my children for two or three months, but I didn’t think of anything but the success of this project. It was an exciting race-against-the-clock.”
Vimi Grewal is also the co-director and a founding member of the very clannish “City Women’s Club”, viewed as one of the most active feminist association of the City. “It’s a forum to discuss purely economic matters, but it also seeks to give women the opportunity to discuss what’s happening in other companies, on various career opportunities available to women, things that they cannot talk about in their own companies.”.

Nathalie Degans
She isn’t the most famous businesswoman in the City yet, but as managing director of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, she’s probably the highest hoisted French woman. Graduating from the Higher Institute of Management (class of 1986) and from INSEAD (1993), Nathalie Degans, about 50 years old, has thirteen years experience in Asian and European Investments, and specializes in mid- and small-caps. She began at Indosuez Bank, and has just started her seventeenth year at Morgan Stanley in London. This year she was appointed executive manager for the dividend yield program for MS.

Clara Furse
The first woman to head the London Stock Exchange in over two hundred years, Clara Furse was replaced in May by the french Xavier Rolet, who now leads more aggressive policies (including the imminent takeover of the young competitor Turquoise). Hostile takeovers, Clara Furse has avoided many since taking office in 2001, and has even negociated the acquisition of Borsa Italiana, Milan’s smaller platform. Meanwhile, LSE Group has been the target platform for the Deutsche Börse, Euronext and OMX, Nasdaq, and Macquarie (Australian investment bank) exchanges.
Known for being prudent, thrify and anti-wasteful (up to insisting at the end of a meal that all uneaten food shouldn’t go directly to the trashcan), Clara Furse has mostly been criticized for failing to buy Liffe, the London derivatives market, where she had previously worked. This resounding failure, which occurred shortly after taking office, has poisoned her eight years as head of LSE Group, and was the main criticism leveled by observers at the end of her term.

Johann Harscoët November 2009

Article also available in : English EN | français FR

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