Toni Marshall is a Director within the Murex practice at Excelian Luxoft Financial Services. She has been with Excelian for 10 years. Previously working at an investment bank, she took a 7-year break from her career to bring up her son and daughter before returning to her career.
Q: What made you want to join Excelian?
Toni: “I started looking for a way back into work, and I knew people from Excelian. At the time Excelian was only 35 people and they were looking for someone to come in, on a part time basis, to initiate a training programme for their Murex consultants which I could do with my financial markets and IT background.”
Q: How did you get from working 2 days a week to being a Director? What was your journey like?
Toni: “The initial 2 days a week was great for me, the hours were flexible and working from home was allowed which suited having a young family. When I first started working at Excelian, my son was only 4 and my daughter was 6.
As Excelian grew, and as my children grew, I attributed more time to work. In 2010, we started the first graduate academy. Recruiting and training graduates, supporting them through their first client assignments and watching them progress their careers at Excelian has been very rewarding.
In 2015-2016, I increased my hours to 3 and then 4 days a week and became responsible for the global Murex people strategy. I now ensure consultants are placed into teams that meet both the client’s needs and the professional development needs of the individual consultants.
Over this time, I have introduced a career mentoring structure, developed our talent management and succession planning strategy and grown our training academies into a global offering for both graduates and experienced staff. I have also worked with others at Excelian to create our CSR programme.”
Q: What challenges have you faced during your journey at Excelian? How did you overcome them? In addition, do you have any ongoing challenges?
Toni: “Everything I’ve done at Excelian I've never done before. So whether it was starting up the graduate programme, working with the HR department to put a career roadmap structure in place, creating the career mentor structure, even running CSR programmes – these are all things I'd never done anywhere else before. My degree is in mathematics, so I have no background or qualifications in people management or L&D.
But you learn from the people around you, from research and from attending events where you meet specialists that have been doing this for a very long time. You take their advice, and you try. And you have to understand that not everything you do is going to work the first time. But as long as you’re constantly asking for feedback and you're willing to accept criticism, you can always improve.”
Q: What made you want to stay with Excelian? What do you like about Excelian, and what makes it special?
Toni: “The people! I've worked with some of the people here since the day I joined and we have a great team. The diversity of the people and our client projects makes every day interesting. I never know what each day will bring when I'm coming into to work. Whether it’s a new Murex project starting, a business need to train people in a new technology or financial regulation or advising a consultant on his/her career, no day is ever boring!
I think if I had a job that was 9-5, where I come in and do the same processes day in day out, I'd get bored very quickly – I’ve never had an opportunity to get bored in 10 years!”
Q: What advice and/or encouragement do you have for aspiring women who want similar roles?
Toni: “To keep your eyes open, always look for opportunities, and to look for ways you can add value. Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to give you those opportunities.
When those opportunities come, grab them. Don't be afraid to try new things. And don't be afraid to fail – that's what I try and teach my graduates, as well. Everything is a learning curve, and if you try something and it doesn't work the first time, as long as you're learning, then you can always improve.”
Q: Have you had any challenges related to pushback on women in IT?
Toni: “I have never come across any issues because I'm a woman in an IT environment. I think it’s because I've always been in a male-dominated environment – I focused on sciences and IT at school, and I studied mathematics and IT at university – both were very male-dominated. Even when I first worked in London, the majority of my colleagues were men. I've never seen myself as not being an equal because I’m a woman.
I think what I'm trying to get across is that it doesn't matter if you're a woman. And what disappoints me most about where I work and in IT in general is the lack of women.
While my daughter got work experience at Excelian when she needed to do a 2-week work experience programme for school, none of her friends would ever dream of following a career in IT. They just don't see it as a career for women, and that's something that I would love to see change.
I’m working with an organization called Stemettes that tries to encourage younger girls to start studying IT. We’re going to bring in a group of 13-14 year old girls into Excelian in January to show them the things you can do within an IT career. They’re going to come in and take part in an app-building competition, and a couple of ladies that work at Excelian will talk to them about their careers. They will find out that that a career in IT provides opportunities to see the world, earn great money and there are lots of different jobs to choose from.”
Grab those opportunities
“From the point of view of being a mum, I wasn't one of these mums that went right back to work after having a baby – I didn’t become a super-mum. When my kids were little, I took a 7-year career break…but now I’m a Director in a global IT consultancy.”
“Those opportunities are there if you grab them and work towards them. You can have your career and still have time for your family.”
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