Our women in leadership

At tails.com we celebrate our people every day, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, nationality and any other difference that gives our workplace the diversity it has.

It's International Women’s Day. We took this opportunity to sit down and chat with the women who make up half of our executive leadership team - Miranda (Chief Marketing Officer), Mel (Chief Financial Officer) and Lai-Ping (Chief Product Officer) - to find out about their career journeys and inspirations.

We start where all good stories start, in the beginning, and we discover that all of our women leaders had similar first forays into working life:

Lai-Ping: I grew up with parents who owned a takeaway shop, so as a teenager I spent many weekends helping out in the kitchen. I have three siblings so my parents were paying for four educations and there wasn't much to go around money-wise. Throughout high school and university, I worked several jobs from working with the Scottish courts to waitressing and tutoring other students - quite a mixed bag!

Miranda: I worked several jobs throughout school and university too. At one point I was working in a call centre and as a shop assistant during the day and serving tequilas in a bar at night! I was motivated a lot by the money at that time - it was in my late 20s that my motivations shifted to become something more purpose-driven.

Mel: My commercial dealings started early. I started making customised notepads and selling them. That was really fun! Then I was working with kids as an Activities Assistant in Summer Camps. My first ‘grown-up’ job was as an Auditor.

Who’s been your biggest inspiration or influence in your career?

Lai-Ping: I started working at eBay under a brilliant woman, Tanya Cordrey. She taught me so much on the craft of Product Management. She is authentic, warm and gets straight to the heart of the issue, combined with deep commercial savviness.

Mel: I’d have to say my parents played a pretty big part in my successes. Alongside my two sisters, they brought us up believing that being female should never be a barrier to anything we wanted to achieve.  I saw my strengths and weaknesses as part and parcel of who I was. I knew I'd rarely be the strongest, smartest or most articulate in the room but I had passion, resilience and courage that I could use to my advantage.

Miranda: I grew up with my mum working full-time and saw the passion and conviction she had for her work. I’ve also worked for some strong women who were pushing ahead in digital industries when there weren’t a lot of women around.

Lai-Ping Lai, Miranda Cresswell and Mel Hedley-Lewis take Clover (Lai-Ping’s adorable and fluffy Chow-Chow) for a walk around Richmond.

Have you encountered gender bias in your careers? How did you overcome it?

Miranda: Argh yes, loads. I don’t think I was able to overcome it in the past, I just left. It’s the stuff about being put into a gender bias box, for example, being ‘emotional’ is a double-edged sword.

Mel: When I was working for clients, I was often faced with male-dominated board-rooms. There was a level of intimidation that came with entering that sort of environment both from an age and gender perspective. I found that working with great managers encouraged me to speak up and participate early in my career.

What advice would you give to other women that are aspiring to be in leadership roles?

Mel: Authentic leadership is the most important thing to bring to a leadership team and that’s embracing all elements of what makes you, you, including gender.

Lai-Ping: My advice would be to consider not setting the aim for a leadership role itself. Rather, focus on doing great work that gives you fulfilment, joy and yes, enough money for what matters most to you.

Miranda: The same advice that I’d give to a man. Challenge convention and reframe the problem. Have a winning mindset and instil it in others. Be ambitious for your company, not yourself.