by Barbara Elion
On Thursday last week, I sat down with Samantha Taylor-Bowen to discuss her recent promotion to the Carrick Board of Directors and about her life and business path that has led to her distinguished achievement in an environment largely dominated by men.
In her new role as Group Director of Training and Development, she will be entrusted with implementing and monitoring training programmes across the organisation, conducting performance evaluations, supervising continuing education and assisting in the development of strategic plans.
She has further ideas for her role that she would like to see come to fruition, but given her experience in establishing and building offices in various parts of Southern Africa, she will certainly be instrumental in the Carrick 20/20 rollout.
As we began speaking about this new stage in Sam’s career and the prestige of her achievements – given the glass ceiling for women in organisations, particularly in the main thrust of the financial services business – the delight and pleasure in being so heartily congratulated by the Carrick family was a joy to witness.
Sam laughs a lot, and she enjoys a good joke. She understands me-time and knows when it’s time to work.
If one overhears Sam on the phone, solving a problem, or witnesses her in action instructing or advising people in the company, one characteristic stands out: Sam is very clear in getting to the root of a problem, and when she provides guidance or clears the air on a particular problem, she knows exactly what she is talking about.
In true Libran fashion, she cuts to the chase’ of an issue pretty quickly, and decides what needs to be done and how to proceed once she has weighed up her options.
What struck me so clearly in the interview is how much she identifies with the mindset and business background that informs Craig Featherby’s leadership in the financial services industry, and like him, she has paid her dues and undertaken many challenges in order to be where she is today.
Like Craig and other successful entrepreneurs, Sam has shown remarkable courage in forging her career path.
Sam knows exactly what she wants to achieve, or acquire, and these clearly spelled-out goals – which she reminds herself of when her alarm rings each morning – become her reality after a while, because her daily energy and unconscious mind are focused towards materialising them.
Some of her goals were embedded in her mind when she was a teenager, and it gives her great joy and pride to be able to say, “I have this today because I worked so hard for it.”
Sam identifies as being tenacious and proactive, and most of all, as someone who thrives when working with teams.
Asked whether she could have achieved what she has in terms of income and a book of business had she worked on her own, she reflected for a moment and then said that while her skill and knowledge she worked for on her own, her thriving in the industry is because she has been blessed by having good mentors.
The value of mentorship is so important in this industry – recognised as being pressurised and competitive and which can so easily lead to burn-out – and even more so for women.
She said that while many believe that women need to work 25 per cent harder than men to achieve in the financial services industry, some have told her that, in fact, the percentage is much higher.
We spoke about her early days and about how she came to be in South Africa. This is a natural question to ask her because she speaks with a southern English accent.
Her early years were buoyed by the example of her mother and father, her brother and sister and about the family’s love of travel.
Her mother taught her from the earliest age to play golf, and her father became a ‘legend’ in the world of photography through his inventions regarding battery packs and umbrella lighting.
In telling me this detail, she remained most modest, as though this achievement, in true British fashion, was something to be quietly proud of and not to be broadcast to the world.
Sam arrived in South Africa after deciding, in a heartbeat, to walk away from her position as a successful senior business consultant with a large UK group. She initially lived in Cape Town with her brother until she felt the need to experience Africa, relocating to Botswana to head up a newly established office.
Before long she was one of the top advisers within Southern Africa, opening offices and managing teams of people in Botswana and Zambia.
She was on the verge of being the Senior Area Manager of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and about to open a Namibia office when she heard that Carrick was being opened in Cape Town.
And so, once again, she walked away from a successful role to begin as a manager in a new city, because she believed in the Carrick vision.
Joining her in Cape Town was her wife Sharon and their four beloved rescue dogs from Botswana. Sharon has been instrumental in supporting Sam in all phases of her working life and she credits her with being an outstanding and valued sounding board.
Once at Carrick, Sam managed the very first team of Associates, developing and training them way beyond the call of duty when they had not reached their KPIs.
It is when she hired her own personal business coach that Sam’s life and goals came together.
She speaks very highly about having an external personal business coach and credits her coach, Jane, with helping her to crystallise her strengths and to identify her weaknesses in this phase of her life.
In her new role as Group Director of Training and Development, she will retain a few of her clients, but, more importantly for the business, pass on the ‘Sam formula’ to the new and existing advisers in the Carrick fold.
We wish her every success in her new role and look forward to seeing her take her much-deserved seat in the Executive Suite at Carrick.