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Tamara Gillian is an entrepreneur who founded Cherry London – a marketing agency in that has worked with firms like Visa, Jaguar and HSBC. In 2018, Gillian co-founded WealthiHer, which has a mission to further women's economic advancement and empowerment. Here, Tamara talks about what was the catalyst for starting WealthiHer, how WealthiHer works and her principles for leadership.
When I look back at how I navigated my life, I realise I didn't always have the tools I needed to make the decisions that would benefit or protect me most financially. Sometimes, I wasn't aware of what options I had, or I couldn't make a decision that impacted my finances with confidence.
Going through a divorce was a defining moment for me in many ways. Even though I had quite a short marriage, I lost quite a few of my assets because I'd never really considered thinking about money and finances in the context of love and marriage. I was also missing some of this knowledge in a professional context. Even as a successful business owner, I didn't know how to raise finance or debt for my company or separate my business and personal finances.
WealthiHer was born because I wanted to ensure that other women were equipped to handle their financial affairs with absolute confidence in a way I wasn't. We want to give women the tools and knowledge they need to empower them to make informed decisions about their finances and to prosper. Together, Lauren Von Stackelberg and I launched WealthiHer in 2018.
WealthiHer's mission is to transform female financial futures by empowering women. We do that by providing financial education and practical know-how women can use to manage their finances and wealth.
We typically focus on helping women understand, manage and engage more in long-term financial products, which can be anything from pensions to investments. We do this by connecting them with powerful influencers – our partners – who can share knowledge and insight on the topic.
Of course, a woman's financial success isn't only about money. It's hugely influenced by how well she understands things like the legal or fiscal world, for example. We've also made a point to collaborate with firms in industries linked to finance, like tax and law firms.
I also think it's important to say that just because our mission is to empower women, it doesn't mean we're a female-only organisation. Male allies are a hugely important part of our journey and women's financial empowerment in general. Working with men benefits everyone, and we do so extensively through our partners.
WealthiHer is on a mission of transformation, and we're extending our mission slightly. We're inviting legal firms to partner with us as well as advisory firms. We're also looking at programs to accelerate support and funding for female founders as well as launching in Hong Kong and Singapore.
We're also thinking about what we need to do to empower the next generation. There's currently no financial teaching of any kind in the UK at the moment, so we've launched a campaign to get financial literacy on the primary school curriculum in England.
We're also working with the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up, to create future equality champions.
Collaboration and working together – especially if you're trying to tackle a big challenge like we are – is the key to success. I believe you can achieve so much more in a group than you can if you're working alone. It's part of the reason why we work with prominent players in the finance industry. J.P. Morgan Private Bank was a founding partner of the WealthiHer network, for example. They're a fantastic partner in their own right, but working with players this size also helps us scale and reach more women.
I also believe that team is everything. I've always looked to hire people that are better in a different way from me, and I've learnt to hire them sooner than I think I need them...they have always made a tangible difference.
Lastly, I'd say that you need to be bold and brave. No one changed anything great without a little bit of bravery, which means you have to do new things and deal with fear and sometimes failure. You need to find a way to overcome the things you fear: ask for help, learn from mistakes and let anything that doesn't go your way make you stronger.
A huge highlight for me was opening the London Stock Exchange. To open the Stock Exchange surrounded by our partners, companies that championed us and the male allies who have supported us, made me incredibly proud. That day I rushed from opening the Stock Exchange to my son's school assembly. Because I was a little bit late, my son saw me arrive. He called out in front of everyone, 'There's my mum!' which was the perfect personal moment in the middle of this day where I'd had this extraordinary professional achievement.
Collaboration sits at the heart of everything we do. I'd say collaboration is one of the overlooked secrets of success: if everybody wins, everybody benefits, and it's easier to get people on board. When you strike that balance, you can achieve much more than if you're only looking out for yourself.
For WealthiHer, collaboration isn't exclusively external. For us, it starts with our people. WealthiHer is a small company, but one of my messages is that we can't take on this massive challenge of empowering women to make better financial decisions if we aren't actively changing things in-house. You have to look after your own employees first and foremost, and that's not a one-way road: it requires collaboration. We recently launched our equal parental leave policy, allowing men to take the same parental leave as women – something I think is vitally important in the equality mix. I always think: if we can't enable change at this level, what's it all for?
It has been an incredibly challenging two years for business leaders and entrepreneurs. The summer is typically a bit of a quieter time for us, so I'll be taking a moment to simply rejuvenate and recharge.
I think it's vitally important that we recharge ourselves as entrepreneurs and leaders. Our job is to inspire, lead and push boundaries, but you cannot do that if you're running on empty – you need your own fuel first.