Being a women in the corporate world can be tough, but armed with with the right handbag, women can take on anything. Did you know Sarah designed her very first handbag to meet a businesswomans every need? Now with the launch of the perfect work bag, the Michelle Tote, Sarah is going back to her roots and helping successful women everywhere. Head of FX Trading Liquidity at Bloomberg, Paula Fry (@cityfashgal) was one of the first lucky ladies to experience the Michelle, taking it with her to work and experiencing all this wonderful handbag has to offer. Join us as we celebrate Paula's fabulous career in this insightful interview!
Hey Paula, you have a great career in FinTech, have you always been in the industry? Tell us a bit about your career journey.
It’s a long journey ! And a long story too. I started my finance career in an investment bank firstly as a desk assistant on the trading floor and then got a job as an fx trader - buying and selling currency which whilst stressful, was super exciting. I pivoted in to sales after 14 years, also had some time out to start my own business then eventually, over 8 years ago I settled in my present role in fintech which I love. I still work with investment banks but on trading technology side rather than trading myself.
Times have changed quickly for women, and there is a real drive to get women into STEM. Women now make up around 25% of the tech workforce and that number is continuing to rise. What advice would you give to women trying to make it in corporate careers?
We definitely need more young women to take STEM subjects at school and not to think that women can’t work in technology! It’s a great career. Whilst lots of industries are still male dominated it’s true, women should not let that put them off and should always be encouraged to be their authentic selves.
In business, first impressions matter. It’s said you only have 3 seconds to make a good first impression, and in a meeting room every second counts. How do you make sure you make a good first impression.
A smile and a strong handshake works for me.
“Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” is an age old narrative, but dressing for success is proven to increase your confidence and leave a positive impression on your colleagues. Do you have any advice for those looking to improve their workwear?
Plan your outfits! I check the weather on a Sunday for the rest of the week and I spend 20 minutes putting together what my week might look like. I might change my mind sometimes but I check my diary for important meetings or events and plan accordingly. Overall you need to be comfortable - but I really like feeling put together - it’s gives me a level of confidence I don’t get in jeans and trainers !
Do you find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance?
I wouldn’t say it’s difficult if you have it is one of your priorities. Work can be all consuming but time off spent with family and friends is so valuable for your mental health and ultimately how you then perform.
What are your favourite ways to de-stress after a difficult day at work?
A long bath and a chat/cuddle with my 4 chihuahuas! My husband normally cooks so I’m lucky to always have that waiting for me when I get home.
You’re a long-time lover of the poppy backpack for work and travel, but recently treated yourself to the fabulous Michelle, what are some of your favourite things about the Michelle Tote?
She is roomy and stylish ! I’m on the go all the time and often have to take a laptop as well as my trusty notebook that I can’t do without. I love I can use the accessories I got with my Poppy backpack too to re-style Michelle!
What makes a Sarah Haran bag so good for businesswomen?
The bags are both beautifully made and super practical, what more could you want!
On a typical workday, what do you carry in your bag?
The kitchen sink! I have my train pass, work pass, two phones, note book, business cards, hair brush, wallet, ear phones, perfume, makeup for touch ups during the day, sometimes flat shoes if I’m wearing heels, umbrella, the list goes on…
In the corporate world, there’s no shortage of people looking to give advice, some good, some bad. What’s one piece of advice you’ve been given which has stuck with you and helped in your career?
Something I know to be true is a piece of advice I give to everyone - no matter their seniority- always be pleasant. You can be direct, you can be honest, you can be funny -but you never know who you will one day be working for one day so always try and be pleasant! It makes life so much nicer.