UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) works with UK based businesses to ensure their success in international markets through exports. It also encourages and supports overseas companies to look at the UK as the best place to set up or expand their business. Sue Langley is the CEO of UK Financial Services for UKTI. Previously she was an Executive Director at Lloyds of London, a global Insurance Market.
When I started work I learnt very early on that you have to take responsibility for your own career. There are all sorts of interesting opportunities out there and if you don’t step up and take them then it’s difficult to realise your full potential. I also learnt that it’s ok to make a mistake, they are often the best learning experiences you can have. It can be scary to put yourself into new situations but if you have the confidence to try then what’s the worst that can happen?
I moved into the City almost by accident, having worked initially with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as a Management Consultant. In that role I made sure that I worked with as many different companies as possible to have a wide range of business experience. That was really helpful when I moved into my next role as it gave me a such range of perspectives. After spending two years travelling with PwC and working with different teams I decided it was time to work in one place for a while. I always enjoyed the challenge of driving change in the business world and the City was an exciting place to be.
I joined a Lloyds Insurance company called Hiscox. It was a growing business and I was lucky enough to work for a great boss who gave me an incredible mix of both space to operate and support. In many roles though sadly that’s not always the case which is why you have to take responsibility for your own career. As Hiscox was expanding it gave me the opportunity to build on my international experience which in an increasingly global economy was really useful.
I then joined Lloyds of London, which with its 325 year history is a fascinating place and gave me the opportunity once again to work with a range of companies that operate in that market place. After 15 years in the City I decided it was time for a career change and although it seemed like a big step, I moved from full time employment into a number of different roles including CEO for UK Financial Services at UKTI and a Non-Executive for Northern Rock Asset Management and Bradford & Bingley. This also allows me to have the time to mentor other women moving through their career and to work with the Wonderful Women’s Business Council. I love the fact that I am never doing the same thing day to day and really enjoy it.
I suppose I never really set out in life determined to have a high flying career, I could say that all my roles just happened. But it wouldn’t have happened without having the confidence just to go for opportunities, even if I was unsure about them. My advice to anyone at whatever stage of their career would just be to be yourself and go for it. And to support anyone else you can along the way.