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Interview with Alex Gibson-Watt for The Month Magazine

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a mother of four (now very grown up) children and wife of a very long-suffering husband. I have been involved with John Lamb in its various guises since 2000. The business started as an independent financial advice firm, very focused on tax planning, before evolving into wealth management, retaining its specialist protection brokerage.  I have worked across all areas of the business and am now Managing Director. I work alongside my mother, Paula Steele, which has plenty of benefits and a few negatives!

Tell us about your current role as Managing Director of John Lamb Hill Oldridge, a specialist protection brokerage?

When we sold the wealth management business in 2019, we retained the specialist protection business and subsequently bought the Hill Oldridge business, following the death of its Principal, in 2020, creating John Lamb Hill Oldridge (JLHO).  I look after the operations side of the business, as is the case in many small companies. My role requires me to have oversight across all areas. I also focus on business strategy and growth.

Describe any challenges you have faced in your career as a business owner in the financial services sector and how you have overcome them?

One of the biggest challenge for me has been taking on roles that I didn’t think I would be naturally good at and enjoy. There are parts of my job that I really love but as the Managing Director of a small business you have to wear many hats and for me that includes, compliance and account supervision.  I have surprised myself with how much I have learnt in these sectors and how much opportunity for growth it has given me.

The other big challenge for me is managing the balance between work and home and not giving everything to these two sides and forgetting to look after myself… I am still working on how to overcome that one!

What achievement are you most proud of?

From a professional point, the success of the business is down to every JLHO team member… a team that has grown by over 200% since 2019. I am committed to ensuring that everyone has a voice which I would hope they all feel they do.

From a personal point, my 4 wonderful children, who continue to amaze me with their determination, drive and most importantly their kindness.

What is it like to be a female entrepreneur in the private client industry?

The private client industry has a reputation for being male dominated, however there are many, very successful and entrepreneurial women at the forefront of the industry who are driving change despite there still being some way to go before we reach equity.

I feel extremely lucky to work in an environment with a lot of strong women, and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that there is no gender gap in our business.  I think there is still a long way to go before we see more female representation at senior levels but we also have to look at how much progress has been made in the past 50 years.

You have 4 children. Do you have any advice for women in the industry attempting to balance their work with their personal life?

The children come first and they know that. I will always make sure to be there for things that are important to them. My husband also works in a very pressurised industry and there are times when one of you has to take on more than the other and (sadly) it is rarely a 50/50 balance.

However, with planning, effective communication, and a commitment to self-care, I find it  possible to navigate these challenges. Every woman’s journey is unique, and finding the right balance requires continuous adjustment. You also have to remember, you are not alone in this endeavour, and by sharing experiences and supporting one another, women in the industry can continue to pave the way for a more inclusive and balanced professional landscape.

What is the most useful leadership lesson you have learnt?

 Active listening. Leadership is not just about speaking, it’s also about listening. Actively listening to your team demonstrates respect and helps you understand their perspectives, concerns and ideas. This, in turn, promotes a more collaborative and inclusive work environment.

In essence, the ability to communicate effectively is a foundational leadership skill. It not only ensures that the team is on the same page but also contributes to building a strong, cohesive and motivated group.

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