Women's Recognition Awards

Meet our FRWRA Winners: Maria Harris, Atom Bank

Rozi Jones
9th October 2018
Maria Harris Atom Bank
"I’d love to see us have a truly diverse workforce across the whole industry – not just in terms of gender but a financial services sector which genuinely reflects our customer base"

In this series, we speak to the winners of our inaugural Financial Reporter Women's Recognition Awards about what the awards mean to them and how we can achieve gender equality within our industry.

FR: What does winning a Women’s Recognition Award mean to you and why are awards like this so important for the industry?

There have been so many men and women in the industry working hard to raise the profile of diversity and gender balance so it’s great to be part of the women recognised for making a difference. There are a lot of talented people joining and working in our industry and it’s important for them to have a range of role models, coaches, mentors and people who inspire them to stay and have amazing careers. The awards do a great job of highlighting the breadth of talent that we have across the industry and celebrating the progress that we’re making towards a more balanced financial services market.

FR: Tell us more about your role in financial services.

I’m director of lending at Atom bank which means that I had the pleasure of designing and bringing to life our mortgage proposition but being a director also means I’m part of our executive team. I work closely with our chief executive and other exco members to make sure we run the bank safely, compliantly and meet our business objectives. I run our intermediary team of field based BDMs across residential and SME lending and our telephone based support, admin and quality assurance teams. They’re a fantastic group of people and totally committed to the customer obsession that is Atom bank.

FR: What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I’ve had a fairly unorthodox career in that I only joined financial services 13 or so years ago. I started my career in travel, managing contact centre teams for British Airways then moved to the utility industry. At the grand old age of 30, I thought I should probably get myself a degree in management so went to uni as a mature student while working full time and being mum to a five year old and a nine month old baby. I originally joined Halifax in 2005 on the contact centre side, managing their intermediary support function in Glasgow but discovered a passion for intermediary and all things mortgages. Setting up Atom bank’s mortgage proposition has probably been the most exciting and exhilarating thing I’ve ever done but getting a Post Graduate degree and the career it’s led to is the thing I’m most proud of in my career.

FR: What one change would you like to see in financial services in the near future?

I’d love to see us have a truly diverse workforce across the whole industry – not just in terms of gender but a financial services sector which genuinely reflects our customer base today and in the future.

FR: If you had one piece of advice for someone starting out in financial services, what would it be?

Be true to yourself and your beliefs. There are opportunities to change the customer experience, the culture and the way the industry works but it takes courage, resolve and a strength of character. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the way things are and forget what you believe in and why you started your journey in the first place but don’t give in – stay true to your values and remember that the next star in the making is looking at you as their inspiration.

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