Claire is Managing Director for Wolters Kluwer UK&I.
She has 20 years’ experience as a senior executive in the retail banking, personal finance and software industries having worked for companies including Morgan Stanley, Alliance & Leicester and Sage. Claire joined Wolters Kluwer in 2015.
Responsible for the strategic direction and operational excellence of the UK business, Claire believes that success in business is directly linked to authenticity, and that ‘there’s no such thing as can’t.’
She is a qualified Executive Coach and has worked with executive teams in FTSE 100 companies.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am proud to be the MD for Tax & Accounting, Wolters Kluwer UK&I. I work with an amazing and diverse UK&I and global team, and I get to explore my passion for putting customers at the heart of everything we do. Delivering great solutions and customer service has been central to every role I’ve held as a senior executive in a career which has spanned retail banking, personal finance and accounting software. I am also a fully qualified Executive Coach
To an extent, yes. I always knew my strengths and weaknesses and chose to focus on my strengths. In my first job – straight out of university – I was working in an estate agents in sales supporting a financial advisor, which is what actually piqued my interest in financial services. It was there that I learned how to examine what I needed to get where I wanted to go next. I’m not a fan of standing still, and I still stand by what my parents taught me – you only become an expert if you practice and it is hard work that takes you where you want to be.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
My pet hate is the word ‘can’t’. It’s a word that I and most people have heard historically throughout our careers, but I firmly believe there is always a way.
Accountability is key in achieving solutions when you’re told you can’t. I am accountable for my customers, people and the success of my business. Accountability means not giving up, being resilient and showing determination. It’s crucial to be accountable for what you can control in your personal and professional life – it’s all too easy to blame others or create excuses.
I look for opportunity in everything – ways to innovate that will leapfrog competitors, ways to exploit the developing talent and thought leadership we have and, ultimately, ways to win.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
I have seen many instances of women, across a range of industries, creating a persona because they think they need to be more assertive or more bullish in the way that they communicate versus their male counterparts. There’s a bizarre pressure to become more dominant that you are and this is dangerous as it can cause people to lose their empathy and what makes them their valid selves.
Rather than mirroring those around them in the boardroom, women must acknowledge and celebrate their own knowledge, behaviours, ability to empower and realise that they can be a great IT leader.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Great leadership is about continually developing your people and giving them freedom to innovate and to be the best they can be while retaining their own identity and aspirations. Many leaders judge their legacy on the results they have achieved for a business and of course, that’s critically important, but for me, a huge measure of my personal success has always been about giving people the confidence to develop into great roles and opportunities
I am mentor to people throughout the organisation and their feedback is that I help them to see things differently and that quite frequently, they find they knew the answers all along and the journey was just part of the experience.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
In the past twelve months, under my stewardship, Wolters Kluwer UK has completely transformed and become a tour de force in the technology space. When I joined the business, part of my vision was to launch a cloud-enabled workspace for accountants to the UK market; a unique workspace that would allow forward-thinking firms to enhance their client service and see growth in their revenue and profitability. It’s amazing to see it succeed.
Also in the last year, I spearheaded the conception of the Wolters Kluwer Culture Programme (based on the principles of the Living Leader series) which recognises excellence and champions my belief that everyone in the business is a leader. Every single UK employee has now undertaken this residential training which inspires openness, transparency and empowers every individual to ask challenging questions that unlock habitual thinking. It’s an amazing initiative and I’m extremely proud of it.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
Firstly, believe in yourself. Secondly, surround yourself with a great team. No one individual has all the answers, and great people will motivate you and inspire you and others across the business. Identify where you have gaps in your own knowledge and make smart recruiting decisions to accrue the best possible talent. Once you have the talent, nurture it by giving colleagues the freedom to innovate, take risks, and, crucially, to be themselves.