This is Lucy. Since the early days in her career, she’s been convinced there’s a fairer, more sustainable financial system waiting in the wings – and she’s going to find it. If you didn’t think you could be a leader and have a softer side, then you should really meet Lucy.
1. Hello world, it’s me
“When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina, a fashion designer and prime minister. I was ambitious, creative and wanted to change the world. I still do. I’m an only child to a single mum who worked in the NHS and did a lot of charity work.
We didn’t have much money growing up, but that’s never been a measure of success to me. If you’d told me back then that I’d end up in financial services, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was all about having a positive social impact, and I couldn’t see the two worlds coming together just yet.
My first job after university was teaching in a London secondary school as one of the early cohorts of Teach First, an organisation that supports leaders who want to make a difference through teaching. I loved being part of a purposeful movement, doing something I really believed in.
Seeing the difference that good leadership made to a school, I then moved to an education charity, where I recruited and developed leaders with the potential to become headteachers of the most “challenged” schools, serving children in deprived areas across the UK.”
2. Mission comes first
“A few years into my career, I discovered I could make an even greater impact by learning business skills. It was a real turning point for me when I realised how much of an impact I could have working in consulting.
Banks were scary to me when I was growing up. I distinctly remember Mum receiving red letters from the bank telling her she was in debt, and the anxiety that caused. When I joined Deloitte, I was excited to give our banking clients a human face and help them provide a better experience to all of their customers.
Initially, I set up the Better Banking team to help our financial services clients to have more positive social and environmental impact. I have since broadened my focus beyond banking, and developed a proposition around purpose, which encourages and supports clients in every industry to be more purpose-driven.
Someone in my team recently told me I was very relatable. I love chatting about what was on Netflix as much as I do about the barriers people face around financial inclusion. I'm really grateful for having such passionate and skilled people in my team; I never feel I’ve got the best idea – I want to hear everyone’s views and develop things collaboratively.”
3. Silver linings
“In 2014, after a busy day at work, then dinner out, I was walking home when suddenly my vision went double. I was obviously worried but assumed I’d had a glass of wine too many, worked too hard and just needed to go to bed. The next morning, it was still there, and over the next few months, my normal life slipped away. Cue brain scans, doctor appointments, extreme tiredness and fear of terminal illness.
The mention of multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable condition that damages the nerves in your brain and spinal cord, was a massive wake-up call. Searching for answers, I stumbled upon a movement in California treating MS with lifestyle changes – and overnight I quit sugar, caffeine, alcohol, meat and gluten. Within weeks, my energy was back.
By 2017, when I had the formal MS diagnosis, life was already very different. Medication and a far-more-balanced lifestyle help keep it all in check. I discovered mindfulness, and with some encouragement from my husband, I started running. I even ran my first marathon for MS-UK to show myself that anything is possible, even with MS. In fact, I now feel fitter and happier than ever.
These days, I have the odd coffee and glass of wine, but I’m fully vegan, and I listen to my body. If I feel myself getting stressed, I take a break, walk the dog, head to the garden, maybe meditate. And the lessons I’ve learnt about prioritising wellbeing, I share with my team.”
4. In their hands
“I want everyone to feel included and welcome in my team. Over the past year, I’ve learnt a lot from the discussions we’ve had as a firm around Black Lives Matter. Hearing our Black colleagues share their stories was heart-breaking. There’s a long way to go, but those conversations are so important in bringing us closer and understanding what we need to change.
I’ve experienced hurtful micro-aggressions that made me feel out of place. In school, kids would often say that Mum wasn’t my mum because she had blond hair and blue eyes. My Mum’s English and my Dad’s Moroccan, and my background gave me an appreciation for different cultures, religions, and experiences from a young age.
I’m now raising twin girls who are clearly inspired by Greta Thunberg. They’re only five, but they already see the environmental and social impact of their actions. They want to help homeless people, and to save our planet; I love the passion that they have for making a difference.
Watching them engage with their world, I see how important role models are – especially those that don’t fit a traditional mould. It makes me proud when we celebrate diverse role models in the business world.”
5. Life’s a party
“My amazing coach gave me the best piece of advice I ever received. She helped me see the big picture of my life and my career through a powerful question: what do you want to be celebrating at your retirement party? It made me realise I want a legacy of helping people and having a positive impact on the world.
To me, success is not about money or titles – it’s about having that clear sense of purpose and working as a team to leave things better than we found them. I’m really proud of setting up our Better Banking team and that people actually wanted to be part of it. When someone comes to me and says ‘Oh, I thought about leaving consulting but then I found this opportunity to be in your team and make a real difference’, that’s an amazing feeling.
But as much as I love my work, I make sure I set clear boundaries and find balance. Whenever I have family time or go on holiday, I completely shut off from work and am 100% present. My team have my personal number in case there’s an emergency, if not I’ll be on the beach building sandcastles with my girls and relaxing with my husband. Everyone should feel that it’s okay to do that.”
Five things we learnt from Lucy
Your past can shape your future – in a good way.
When there’s a clear why, everything falls in place.
Your wellbeing comes first. Always.
Don’t worry about how you think you should lead. Be you.
Being able to help others is pretty successful.
There they are – the five things that marked Lucy's journey. The story of how she got to where she is now. May it inspire you on your own journey. We’ll be back next month featuring a new role model.
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