The Women Who Inspire Me


From former First Lady Michelle Obama to author J.K. Rowling, seven inspirational women in finance, reveal their heroes.

In a recent interview, Eliana Sydes, Chartered Financial Planner at Tilney, told The Modern Adviser, “There are plenty of women in other industries who are inspirational but in finance we don’t sing about it enough.”

We think she has a point, so we asked seven of the business professionals from our Women in Finance series to name a woman they find inspiring.

From celebrities to family members, here’s what they had to say…


Davinia Tomlinson
Founder of Rainchq — promoting financial inclusion for women through exclusivity.

“Michelle Obama. I think it’s difficult to be a woman in that kind of role, in a country like the United States and against a global political backdrop that has been hostile and aggressive. But she remains composed, she remains gracious in recognising the privileged position that she was in and over the course of her tenure as the First Lady, despite various attempts by the media, there was never any dirt that they managed to dig up on her. She’s authentic and you get the sense that what she presents is what she actually is, which is really important for public figures.”

Eliana Sydes
Chartered Financial Planner, Tilney — helping people at all stages of life to make the most of their money and achieve their financial goals.

“My daughter. Always. She is 15 and she inspires me because if I don’t remember what it’s like to be 15 and see the world in the future, how can I talk to anybody to show them what’s coming down the line? The more time you spend with younger people, the more chances you have to be open to change. The second person who inspires me is a lady called Stacey who started with me in admin and has now just qualified with a diploma. On day one, when I asked, “What do you want to do?” She said, “Your job, but I’ll never get it.” It’s taken her just over 18 months to get there by sheer belief and that makes her inspirational even though she doesn’t realise it.”

Verona Kenny
Head of Intermediary, Seven Investment Management — helping individuals manage their capital.

“Baroness Sally Greengross, now 83 years old, is just amazing. I met her recently and we were talking about financial planning. It’s one thing if you’re the financial adviser working with a client to do their financial planning but actually as you enter retirement what’s critical is working with them so that they can have a life locally and its actually making sure that they are doing volunteering. You’re not actually just making sure that they’ve got their investments in the right order but it’s wider than that.”

Andrea Solana
Head of Advanced Planning, MASECO — providing expert guidance to Americans in the US and abroad, UK residents and financial advisers.

“There’s a women’s organisation that’s been running for a few years called the Isabella Forum which focuses on helping women learn about personal finance. The organisation is named after Queen Isabella I of Castulle who financed Columbus’ 1492 journey to the New World. When I heard her story and learnt more about her background it really resonated. She could be considered one of the first female entrepreneurs, she was empowered to invest.”

Sarah Hogan
Director, KBA FS Ltd — aiding clients through the financial life cycle whether it be mortgages, planning for retirement or university fees.

“There are so many inspiring women in the world, we really are living in fantastic times to be female; Serena Williams, Sheryl Sandberg, J.K. Rowling to name but a few from the last few years. The one that really springs to mind is Michelle Obama. She’s a graduate from Princeton and Harvard, a fantastic mother and has so much grace and class. She is an inspiration to young women everywhere to spread their wings and soar, and so they should.”

Victoria Seabrooke
Financial Planner & Pensions Specialist, Lyndhurst Financial Management Ltd — helping clients both pre and post retirement and establish a plan.

“I’ve just been reading Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst with my daughter. We decided we thought Marie Curie was amazing not only because she saved so many lives from her research into radioactivity, being the first female Nobel Prize winner, but how brave she was to leave home to study in Paris because women were not allowed to attend University in Poland.”

Dr Kathryn Knowles
Managing Director, Cura Financial Services — helping individuals with pre-existing medical conditions find the right life insurance.

“I’m going to be soppy and say my mum. She has almost every medical condition known to man and she was medically retired about 20 years ago but she doesn’t let that stop her and fights continuously. I’ve got medical conditions and she made sure I got the help I needed. I only attended secondary school part time and she fought to get materials at home to study through college and university and has been by my side throughout my PhD. She drops everything for her kids and her grandkids, I aspire to be that and have her resilience because she’s not had an easy life.”