“Vanessa Vallely has become a leading light in empowering women and encouraging diversity in the workplace across the globe. Founder of WeAreTheCity.Com she also co-founded the City wide diversity network, The Network of Networks, which includes diversity heads from 45 FTSE firms.
With a career in banking and finance spanning 23 years including Chief Operating Officer, Vanessa was awarded the “Champion for Women” award at the 2011 Women in Banking and Finance awards and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential Women in Finance for 2011. Vanessa has also received her first global award from TIAW, where she was named as one of 100 Women making a global difference.
A sought after mentor and an accomplished motivational speaker, Vanessa frequently appears on TV, radio & in media discussions, speaking around the world about diversity, empowerment, mentoring and female networks. She is considered as the most connected woman in the city. A passionate charity fundraiser and volunteer with her family, in 2012 ran her first London marathon and continues to raise money in her role as a Pearly Queen of the City of London.”
Tell us about your background? Professional & personal
I started my career in the City aged 16. I grew up in a fairly economic and socially challenged background, so upon leaving school I had to work to bring money in to our household. In hindsight, I arrived in the City with not much more than a handful of GCSE’s and a desire to succeed. I went through the first few years of my career jumping from job to job, getting the experience I needed and then moving on. It was only when I started my family that I began to really focus on my career and found my first champion, a gentleman by the name of Roy Dainty. Throughout my career I have been lucky to work alongside a number of colleagues who later became my mentors.
I attribute a lot of my corporate success to these individuals as they were always there to guide me towards greater challenges or lead me out of sticky situations.
I have also chosen to work for employers and bosses who are family friendly and appreciate that giving people balance reaps rewards. I have given the best years of my career to those employers as they have enabled me to grow my career, both inside and outside of work and enabled me to have flexibility to bring up my children.
What is your proudest achievement?
I see every day as an achievement.
If I had to chose there would be a number of defining moments such as having children, the day our website reached a million hits and won it’s first award, and lastly, but not least, Winning the Women’s Champion award from Women in Banking and Finance. Both my parents were with me that day so it was a very special moment to be recognized in front of so many people and both of them for helping women achieve their goals.
Who is your female inspiration?
From a UK perspective, it would have to be the lovely Carole Stone. Journalist, Author, known by everyone in the world of politics and media, and recently voted the most connected woman in the UK by the Institute of Directors. She is my personal friend, advisor and mentor and is a testament to the power of networking. Carole is a woman who despite being in her 70’s never fails to amaze me with her energy, fresh perspective and desire to succeed in life.
What made you decide to start WeAreTheCity?
I felt there was a gap in the market in terms of providing City Women access to information about how they could up skill outside of their corporate environment. It was my own frustrations of a working mum of 2 that every time I needed to find information that related to me, a City female, in relation to my working day I had to go on a lengthy Google search.
WeAreTheCity was built to help women easily access information, products and services that enable them to grow professionally and personally.
It is a community of like-minded, career orientated and entrepreneurial women who will hopefully use our site and our network to make a difference.
What would you like to achieve over the next 12 months?
We are planning to launch a job board in the next 3-6 months. My plan is to use WeAreTheCity Careers as a mechanism for Corporates and Recruitment firms to access the phenomenal female talent pool that exists in the UK. I am keen to engage with those who are serious about recruiting women in to a whole myriad of roles as I believe this is the only way we can grow the pipeline of talent for the future. If we don’t address the pipeline issue, we will not move the needle in terms of women reaching senior positions and moving towards board level appointments.
I also want to feature a number of different working arrangements as not 1 shoe fits all. We will not only be promoting permanent, but flexi roles, job shares as well as trustee and non executive positions for those who wish to explore portfolio careers.
There are also plans to start writing a book towards the end of 2012, so watch this space!
Follow her on Twitter here: @WATC_Girl