Inspirational Woman: Siobhan Owers | Partner, Fragomen

Siobhan Owers I am a mother to 5 amazing children, (two adopted siblings and triplets) and I am married to a fantastic supportive husband. I am also a Partner at Fragomen, the world’s largest Immigration services firm.

I lead a large team of extremely talented individuals, supporting mobility needs into the UK and across Europe. I am the regional representative for the Firm’s Diversity & Inclusion committee, established the Europe Middle East and Asia wide mentoring scheme and I am heavily involved in the training and recruitment of new talent into the firm.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

At age 4, my life was all about the dinosaurs, Palaeontology my clear destiny. By 8, I realised I had an innate urge to help people (even when they probably didn’t need it!) and make sure all was fair in the world. I always had a strong sense of justice and what was right.  By 22, I thought a career in law would tick a lot of those boxes for me and that was the extent of the planning.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Plenty! And they are ongoing which I feel is essential for personal growth – even though they may not be welcome at the time, there’s always something I have learnt from a challenge or a setback.

An early one, which could have thrown me off course is one I remember very clearly. I set myself up as a self-employed legal professional after completing my masters degree.  I provided paralegal services and attended court with Barristers. I was working on behalf of a high street firm one day and the solicitor asked me what my future plans were. I said I was applying for training contracts in the City. She sneered at me and told me I stood no chance. She said I was too old (I was 23), I hadn’t followed the ‘prescribed’ route – public school, Oxbridge and straight to the City and that I didn’t have the right accent. What could have really set me back actually motivated me even more. That sneering throwaway comment could have led me to years of dealing with imposter syndrome, but it made me more determined.

On a personal level, I spent years of dealing with infertility and loss, while watching all my friends starting their young families. It was tough but I never gave up hope.  My ongoing challenge now is to ensure I maintain a balanced work and home life.  I want to be the best possible version of myself to both my family and to my clients and team.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

From a career perspective, making Partner while raising five young children.  I am incredibly proud.  And even prouder because of the support I received from  my family, my colleagues and clients.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The definition of success is a highly personal one but I think a major factor is that I have always been myself and have turned obstacles into opportunities. I set great store in being authentic. I believe I am straight talking but kind, and I am interested in human stories and love getting to know new people. I am proud of my personal achievements but I recognise everything is a team effort.  The work I do at Fragomen impacts people’s lives on a personal level – we are a people business.  And that is a big motivator to me.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think it is invaluable for both personal and professional growth and I have played both roles. I established the mentor scheme at Fragomen a few years ago now, and I am a firm believer in the benefits. For the relationship to be a success, a mentor needs to have a genuine desire to support the mentee, and be humble, honest and empathetic.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I would love if there was one easy answer to do this – but there isn’t. Nor is there one piece of legislation that could apply an immediate fix. While the Gender Pay Gap reporting regulations were a move in the right direction, there are weaknesses in the process and inconsistency in the reporting that need to be addressed. Also, being compelled to evidence there is a problem is very different from a clear commitment and accountability in resolving it.

In the long-term, it is imperative to start early and while so much work is done in early education, more can always be done – for example challenging gender stereo types. Gender biased career direction is still a problem – that 7 year old girl needs to think that being a scientist is as open to her as it is to the 7 year old boy. How we talk to the next generation is everyone’s responsibility. I would welcome stricter regulation on advertising industries too, as they can have a significant effect with respect to reinforcing gender roles.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Be brave. Care less about what people think of you and believe in your own convictions. And never, ever give up on that dream.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

From a career perspective, growth in my current role,  and being a stronger voice for the things I believe in. I want to be a role model for young aspirational women to show they can have both a career and a family.

A personal challenge after a move to the sea (I moved to Jersey with my family at the beginning of 2020) is that I need to stop being terrified of the open water. I want to progress from the little bit of paddle boarding I have managed this summer to full on Mermaid.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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