Sue Hills (CIWFM) is an IWFM non-executive board director and vice president of T. Rowe Price. She was one of 100 women to receive the Freedom of the City accolade from the City of London on 19 April. The celebration marks a century since women’s suffrage – the women’s right to vote.
Sue has made a significant contribution to advancement of our profession and the establishment of it as a recognised educational pathway and career option.
We sat down with Sue following her achievement, to speak about her reaction to receiving the Freedom and becoming a source of inspiration to professionals.
Q. Sue, on behalf of the Institute and our profession, congratulations on receiving the Freedom last month. How does it feel to have received the accolade?
It’s hard to describe; I felt like patting myself on the back! I felt very proud and honoured to be nominated for this award by Sir Michael Snyder. I grew up attending a comprehensive school and did not complete higher education until later into adulthood. It made me think about how hard I have worked and the challenges I have overcome to get here today and made me reflect on the leap women have made throughout recent decades with great pride.
Q. Looking back on the rise of women in our profession and their impact on it, did you feel a sense of personal victory?
Yes, absolutely. On the day, I’d decided to wear a dress that matched the historical colours of the Suffrage movement: purple, white and green. I wanted to think about what I wore to remember what women have achieved. And, because having the background I do and the journey that my career has taken, striving for equality is very important to me.
Working for an asset management company and certainly in the wider industry and the community, I lead awareness campaigns for women in their own careers. To be recognised separately for women’s suffrage has helped me to believe that tables are turning, and opportunities are there if you’re willing to take them. That makes me immensely proud.
Q. What achievement, whether in your career or your work in the London community, do you think led to your nomination?
For me it all goes back to volunteering, getting involved and adding real value, which is then recognised and appreciated. Wherever I’ve worked, I’ve volunteered and have been a local councillor for over 10 years, but the last five have been spent more broadly throughout the industry – particularly with IWFM.
I currently sit on the board of the Institute as a volunteer, driving the profession as the career of choice. I also am the deputy chair of the Cheapside Business Alliance, which promotes business improvement, sustainability and access for residents, tourists and workers in the City, which I think may have contributed to my nomination.
Q. As a board member and chair of the Constitution & Ethics Committee, does receiving the Freedom add to or change your objectives and plans for our members?
Absolutely. What drew me to the Institute was a desire to contribute to the development and promotion of our industry; a governing body and an industry that has given me many of the opportunities I’ve needed to reach where I have.
I haven’t finished with working towards the establishment of our profession as the career of choice and to cement it as a desirable option for the emerging generation of diverse skills and talent.
Having brought in workplace last year, I feel we should continue to look to the horizon and embrace change and influence. I plan to continue to help make our profession even more of an attractive appeal and bring in new talent diverse in thought, practice and background.
Q. Finally, can you share some advice or words of inspiration with our diverse community motivated to reach similar heights?
I think that, for women and indeed all professionals in our profession, opportunities are there if you’re willing to take them and don’t hold yourself back. You can achieve great things if you believe in yourself.
It all comes back to my involvement as a volunteer with the Institute – volunteering is worth it! Getting involved in the profession where you live or work and giving back has mutual benefits and rewards for you as a person and as a professional in the community.
I believe I’ve kept a lot of myself throughout my journey and my sense of humour and my values have rarely faulted, and I believe there are many opportunities for us all in our industry. I’d advise you to find that oomph and go get what you deserve! Say yes (within reason!), keep trying, and get involved!