Female Leadership: Q&A with Clare Nash, Director, Oliver James Associates

Inspired by International Women's Day, we interviewed Clare Nash, Director at Oliver James Associates. Here, Clare offers her career advice to aspiring leaders and discusses gender diversity alongside the future of female leadership. 

1. What’s your career advice to those who aspire to reach the top in the recruitment sector?

Achieving career goals isn’t a sprint; it’s important to pace yourself and not get distracted from doing the simple things right. My first piece of advice is to always demonstrate that you’re adding value to the business, whether that’s through innovative thinking or superior client service. Secondly, I’d suggest always striving to be better than your competitors; learn as much as possible about your discipline and market from a technical basis through market intelligence, business journals and general research. It’s so important to keep learning and evolving from a personal perspective in order to better your career. Finally, I’d recommend putting in the hours and working hard! This is a given really; you won’t reach the top without doing this. 

2. How have attitudes to gender diversity changed within the FS sector throughout your career?

In the last three to four years, I’ve seen that most businesses operating within a typically male-dominated industry have truly recognised the importance of attracting more women into their organisations; particularly into senior-leadership positions to offer a balanced perspective. We’ve moved past establishing the business case for women on the board and are now seeing practical solutions being implemented across businesses to proactively attract female leaders.

3. What do you think the recruitment industry can do to increase diversity within FS?

By working in partnership with clients, consultants are in a pivotal position to advise on how to attract female talent to their organisations. The increase in international mobility experiences within businesses means future leaders are being developed across the globe, resulting in greater opportunities to nurture female talent. We’re also seeing a greater number of networking events for females within the Financial Services sector; recruitment firms, such as ourselves, are working in partnership with clients to host events aimed at females in senior leadership positions. For example, last year, Oliver James Associates sponsored and hosted an interactive panel discussion and networking event in conjunction with the Women’s Innovation Network (WIN) of Zurich Insurance about factors influencing leadership style and their impact on success. The recruitment industry can definitely build upon events such as this, as an excellent way to bring together female leaders and aspiring leaders, providing great opportunities to learn from each other.

4. How has the recruitment industry changed throughout your career?

Technology has heavily influenced the industry, through the use of mobile phones, emails, online ads, media and distribution channels. The breadth of channels available through the use of technology has definitely changed the sector, meaning that there are now so many different ways to speak to clients and candidates. We've recently launched our new Oliver James Associates website which incorporates all aspects of our Social Media channels and enhances the shareability of our content with regards to thought leadership blogs. I also think that recruitment has evolved in itself; it’s an industry focused on adding value to businesses and being a true expert in your recruitment field; it’s certainly not just about presenting CV’s.

5. What does the future hold for female leadership?

It’s a great time to advance your career. We’re seeing more and more women on the board offering another perspective on business strategy. It’s certainly an encouraging time with insurers and banks realising that agility in the workplace is key to attracting a diverse crowd. I feel that the professional characteristics of agility, from a continuous learner to a strategic thinker, will define the next generation of leadership within today’s organisations.

For further information on our networking events for females leaders and aspiring leaders, please contact +44 (0) 207-649-9464 or email   

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Read more about this year's theme for International Women's Day here