Female Frontiers

Our CEO Tamara Gillan is on the honouree list for the Campaign Female Frontiers Awards 2020. In this article she explores what drives people to affect change.

I was entirely humbled to see my name on the honouree list for the Campaign Female Frontiers Awards 2020 alongside the likes of Karen Blackett OBE of WPP and Dr. Rebecca Swift of Getty Images. Female Frontiers honours leaders in a variety of categories and for a variety of reasons, but one thing we all share is the drive to rise to new challenges and to affect change. Which got me wondering what creates this kind of drive?


From my hard-earned experiences, affecting change requires conviction, reserves of perseverance, the ability to accept that it’s not going to be easy and above all else, bravery. Change means swimming against the tide. It means being knocked back, knocked down and then you still have to get up and go again and again and again.


The courage to do things differently is often born from the feeling that something just has be done. Individuals and organisations find the strength to be brave when they are taking a stand for something they truly believe in and sometimes numerous factors align to create a ‘do or die’ moment. So, a healthy mixture of bravery, serendipity and inertia all play their part.


My moment came as I wanted to create a new breed of marketing agency with a culture that encourages and enables people to be their best selves. Sounds great but the hard work is actually delivering this. It required facing some hard truths about the way I approached work and my own outdated visions of leadership. I realised to truly support people in achieving balance in their lives I had to lead by example, no sneaking out for my son’s school assemblies but instead creating robust systems to support parents so that they can balance not only the logistics of parenting but also ensure their family moments are celebrated out in the open. Flexible working arrangements benefits everyone, and it means at Cherry London we secure the brightest and the best. The by-product of this kind of culture is a team of motivated people who deliver brilliant work.


Great things can be achieved if we all let our conviction drive us forward. Some 60% of wealth will soon be in the hands of women, yet the wealth management industry is still predominantly aimed at men. As a result, women often feel unsupported and blocked out of this world. As a business owner and as an entrepreneur with experience of the specific challenges’ female founders face, I had to be part of the effort to realise change. At Cherry London we harness the power of collaboration and I used this approach to bring together competitors from the world of finance to work in partnership to drive positive change in the finance industry. My passion and conviction encouraged bravery in the change agents at the banks and their bravery to try a new approach continues to inspire more partners to join The WealthiHer Network on our mission to make the financial services industry fit for the future, for the benefit of everyone.


To be an agent for change you need to have vision. Mette Lykke is one such visionary, she is the CEO and Co-Founder of Too Good To Go, an organisation that works with restaurants and food retailers to tackle waste by selling food at a discounted price. The app has 18 million users and is gaining an additional 45,000 daily.  It has also partnered with more than 30,000 food suppliers, from Yo Sushi to Accor Hotels and operates in 13 European countries.[1] Tackling food waste in a significant way requires ambition and scale and Lykke is championing this revolution.


The most brilliant champion for change I know is the powerhouse that is my bestie Sian Sutherland. Sian co-founded A Plastic Planet; a social Impact non-profit with a single goal – to ignite and inspire the world to turn off the plastic tap. Watching Sian’s tireless work to change the world has inspired me more than I can say. I think seeing other people’s strength help’s us all try a bit harder and be a little braver with our own ambitions. This is why it is so important to celebrate role-models, not only to bolster their convictions and counterbalance the blows they’ll be absorbing but also because every role-model could inspire the next champion of change.


It is increasingly common for brands and organisations to pledge their commitments to big changes – Ikea is investing 200 million Euros to accelerate the move to become climate positive by 2030 [2] and Microsoft pledged to remove “all of the carbon” from the environment that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975 to become “carbon negative” by 2030.[3]


Today we expect more from the brands and organisations we choose and more from ourselves. This feels intensely positive and inspiring. So, if you’re feeling like championing change or facing a new frontier my advice is just go for it. Who knows where your mission will take you and the changes you’ll invoke? Everyone has the same capacity for change and in the words of David Bowie “we can be heroes just for one day”.[4]


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50974009


[2] https://www.fastcompany.com/90448729/how-ikea-plans-to-be-climate-positive-by-2030


[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51133811


[4] David Bowie, Heroes (1977)

by Tamara Gillan

CEO of Cherry London and Founder of The WealthiHer Network