The Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 25 different industries and professions.
Over the year’s, the awards have recognised over 700 women across the UK and India.
In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.
I am a Partner in the Energy and Natural Resources Group at law firm Reed Smith.
I advise trading companies, banks and utilities on commodity trading, transactional, and regulatory matters. In 2020 – 2021, I was seconded to ADNOC, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, to work on the development of its new trading business, and was fortunate enough to be able to be based in the client’s office in the UAE. Since returning to the UK, I have been kept busy by the gas crisis, working predominantly with companies operating on the supply side.
I decided to qualify into the field of commodities trading because of the dynamic and fast-paced environment driven almost entirely by geopolitical events, meaning the nature of the work changes on a regular basis. I work the clients based across the global, which brings with it an opportunity to understand each client’s product, project and geographic concerns, making each matter that I work on unique.
I read French and Philosophy at UCL. I then did the law conversion course at the College of Law, graduating with an LLB. I then studied for an LLM, whilst doing my training contract. I was very lucky to have good careers advisors who told me that it was possible to have a career in law without studying law as an undergraduate degree at university, and that I could undertake my law conversion course following the completion of a Bachelor’s degree.
My language skills have been hugely beneficial to my career: I spent part of my training contract in Paris, following which I was seconded to a client in their French-speaking Geneva office. Being a fluent Russian speaker, I am able to work closely with colleagues in Reed Smith’s Nur-Sultan office, and conduct negotiations with clients in Russian.
On the day that I found out, I can safely say that I had a glass or two of champagne to celebrate the achievement. I felt incredibly proud about being recognised for my work. When I announced my win on LinkedIn and on various what’s app groups, I received so many warm and supportive messages from my family, friends, colleagues, and clients. I was touched by the generosity of everyone’s kind words. My award has taken pride of place in my home office, and serves as a lovely reminder of my win.
More than individual pride, I also felt a sense of collective pride, to be in the company of such amazing nominees and winners. Hearing the stories of all of the other winners was incredibly inspiring, and I was in awe of their achievements. I left the award ceremony feeling inspired and motivated, and determined to continue working hard, and spreading the word about the wonderful work done by WeAreTheCity.
Since winning the Rising Star award, I have been promoted to Partner at Reed Smith. I was delighted about this, and am relishing this new opportunity, and taking the next step in my career. As partnership had been an ambition of mine for so long, I am now planning new goals, and thinking about where I see myself in 5 years’ time.
My win was featured on the Firm’s Intranet, and in the Women’s Initiative Network’s internal newsletter, as well as my team’s weekly newsletter.
I have become a mentor for two junior female associates in my team, and we meet to discuss career progression and opportunities. I consider it a very important part of my job to help develop the next generation of female talent, and offer wisdom (to the extent that I can!).
First: when it comes to putting together your application for the award, don’t be shy about telling people of your achievements. Own them, and be proud of them. You worked hard, so don’t feel that you have to underplay everything you did to get to where you are now. The worst thing you can do is sell yourself short. In the same way that you have invested in your career, invest the time in telling people all about it.
Second: when it comes to the voting process, lobby your network, and ask people to vote for you: spam social media, put up posters, tell the guy in Costa who makes your coffee in the morning. This comes back to point one – don’t be shy about asking people to vote for you, so that you can be recognised for all of your hard work and achievements. LinkedIn is a fantastic marketing tool, and you never know who has been reading your posts, so take the time to tell people that you have been nominated, and you are relying on people to vote for you.
Surround yourself with the right people – people who will champion you, people who will take the time to mentor you, and people who will just take the time to listen to you when you want to moan for a few minutes. That is unlikely to be the same person for all these situations, so have a good network around you, and know who you can turn to when you need advice, help or support. Do not think it is a sign of weakness to ask for help or guidance – even the most senior leaders have to do that. Make sure that your network is not just an echo chamber, so you are able to hear a mixture of views and opinions, and have people who are prepared to challenge you, and question your decisions.
And remember – there is no substitute for hard work. You have to be prepared to put in the hours. Unfortunately there are no short cuts.