Julia Hoggett oversees the regulation of the UK’s financial markets Financial Conduct Authority, the country’s financial services consumer, market integrity and competition regulator. Prior to that, she spent her career climbing the ranks through different banking roles, from JP Morgan and DEPFA BANK in Ireland to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she was responsible for a range of debt capital markets products.
An early riser and a diligent leader, Hoggett works long hours. This is both to do her best work and to pave the way for young women and LGBT+ employees following in her footsteps, fighting the ugly fact that women’s careers start to flourish at the same time they are deciding whether or not to have children. She’s long been a staunch advocate of helping women come back to work post-childbirth.
After all, people are better at their jobs when they are open about having a life away from the office, be that as a mother, as an LGBT+ person or, in Hoggett’s case, both. “I am much more effective being myself. The emotional energy expended trying to pretend to be something you are not – in an environment where the institutions demand a lot of your time and energy – is wasted,” she told Gay Star News back in 2012. “The thing I love about banking is it’s a meritocracy. If you are good you succeed. I have not felt being a woman was an obstacle or being gay was an obstacle.”
Please describe how and when you first knew you were LGBT+:
I came to the realization that I was gay gradually over several years, most notably between the ages of 17 and 23, when I finally realized that however nervous I was about accepting it, the impact on my life of not accepting it would be simply too great.
In 25 words, describe how you came out:
I joined my gay friends at a gay disco whilst at university – it was clear I was not attending as an Ally!
How has coming out, and being LGBT+ at work, influenced your leadership approach and style?
I suspect it has made me slightly more fearless. In some ways fewer things phase you after overcoming the very real fear of coming out. As an openly gay woman in finance, my story has been out there for so long that it enables me to be more open about myself, to try to make others feel that I’m a known, predictable quantity. I hope that also helps in leading large groups of people through difficult and challenging work, because you may seem a little more down to earth and a little less distant.
If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:
I fear I would have become a lawyer; my partner fears I would have become a politician!
The most important thing I have learned from a boss is:
Two things: firstly, to take what you do incredibly seriously, but to take yourself far less seriously. And secondly, to really understand the weight of the responsibility you have in your role, but not to be weighed down by it.
The most important thing I have learned from an employee is:
How much anyone can grow with the right encouragement and support. Too often, we have attitudes to people that are stuck in aspic, and yet I have seen so many people I work with invest in their careers, grow, develop and become superb professionals and leaders even when the first career choice, or the first role I found them in, was not one in which they were flourishing. Life is too short to give up on potential.
If I could tell someone who is graduating from college this year one thing I’ve learned, it would be:
The ability to build successively on experiences, to develop new skills and take on new roles that were not perhaps the obvious choice is now (and will increasingly be) a critical skill. If you limit your sense of what you can do and do not recognize the broad applicability of the things you have learned, it will be harder to develop those skills.
The best interview question I have ever heard is:
I always ask the same question at the start of any interview. Loosely put, it’s, “Why are we here?” but more specifically, it’s, “in the context of the choices you have made throughout your career, why this job and why now?” I have found firstly that people relax and show more of themselves when they are retelling their history, and the things they choose to highlight and where they start is hugely enlightening about what matters to them as a person. Ultimately, if you hire them, you have a much fuller sense of what they might be capable of in the role and indeed in the organization more broadly.
This person is my LGBT+ hero, because:
I find personal bravery incredibly heroic, and therefore one of the people that first comes to mind is a brilliant lady called Antonia Belcher, a charming, hugely professional, open and kind trans woman who has shared her story with so many people and been a hugely visible role model in the trans community with the most unassuming grace one could imagine.
My motto is:
If everything that has gone before has brought me to where I am now, and I am happy and content, then what’s to regret about anything that has gone before?
The next big thing for the global LGBT+ community is:
The fact that LGBT+ rights are not equally and evenly distributed across the world, increasingly LGB populations in certain Western societies may find themselves in that unusual position of privilege, wealthier than some of our straight peers and with an increasingly similar suite of rights. In the same way that Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women,” I believe we in the gay community have a similar responsibility to not simply seek to win those rights and protections for ourselves and then declare the job done.
The next big step for me in my career could be:
I have no idea. I have never had a ‘plan.’ I operate on a very simple basis: I aim to do the very best I can do in the job I am in and trust that opportunities will come from that. So far, that has worked, so I am not changing my approach now!
If you were planning a dinner party and could invite any five people from history, who would they be, and why?
The problem with inviting five amazing people from history to the same dinner party would be that you would never get the opportunity to really understand their experience – too little time and too much to cover. What I would actually love to do is to pair a political leader, an innovative business leader, a polymath scientist, a sociologist or philosopher and someone who could describe a large global problem and ask them to talk about how to fix it.
The problems I would like to fix most are how we change the inevitable short termism of markets, and indeed government budgetary planning, to enable the truly required investments in the future. Be they for education, infrastructure or environmental protection – how do we genuinely incentivize the investment in public good?
The six things I could never live without are:
I would rather choose people over things, but if I had to choose things based on the life I lead now:
A good rucksack
A watch, as my timekeeping seems to be getting worse
I hate to say it, but an iPhone, as it would get rid of the need for photo albums, music collections or even some books at a pinch.
A good coat – more often than not I am cold!
The three books I would take to a deserted island are:
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – it’s one of the best treatises on the fallibility of man I have ever read.
All of the Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin – they would take a while to reread, and I could take on my own personal Anna Madrigal traits on the desert island.
A practical survival manual (preferably with pictures).