Gillian is a Partner and Head of the Family Office division in Guernsey. Her focus is on cross-border estate and succession planning issues and the establishment of offshore structures including trusts. Here she discusses how nurturing colleagues through mentoring can making all the difference to achieving an inclusive workplace:

What was your route to becoming Head of Family Office, Guernsey, at Stonehage Fleming last year?
I started my career as a Scottish Practising Solicitor but after several years being a litigator I decided to leave private practice and I joined the legal department of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc at their head office in St Andrews Square, Edinburgh.

After four and a half years, I came across an advertisement in The Times for a mutual fund legal work opportunity in the Cayman Islands and took the leap across the Atlantic to Join Bank of Bermuda. After two years or so in the Cayman Islands, the bank’s head of private client services left and they offered me the role; I have never looked back.

Private client work is varied. No matter how long you’ve been in this job, you’re always learning something new. For me, this is one of the attractions. Not only does it make it incredibly interesting, but I have also had the pleasure of meeting some remarkable people along the way.

Working for various different companies my career has taken me to several international locations, including the Caribbean. However, I still hold a practising certificate as a solicitor in Scotland and have managed to keep close roots to that part of the world.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #InspireInclusion. How does Stonehage Fleming play its part?
At Stonehage Fleming, our core values of excellence, moral courage and family are reflected in the way we treat both our clients and each other. From my experience of talking to people from our various offices around the business, these values promote an overall sense of familiarity and warmth. We are a jurisdictionally diverse business, employing a range of people from all walks of life. Yet, there is a strong sense of togetherness and a shared purpose of wanting to deliver the highest quality service to clients to the best of our abilities. For me, this is the best demonstration of how our culture and values inspire inclusion.

What does #InspireInclusion mean in your local market of Guernsey?
I’m from Scotland and there many others who work in financial services on Guernsey who are ‘non-islanders’. That is part of the ethos here; inclusion is built in to how we work. The diversity of experience and people’s specialities is quite incredible. Every one of them brings a different and valuable perspective to their work. It is vitally important to us as an international family office, the nature of our work being to support clients – often with complex needs – in all four corners of the world. Being inclusive employers, therefore, is a vital part of that.

But it is not just about racial or cultural diversity. A few year ago, I was at a STEP (Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners) awards dinner. That evening, broadcaster Gabby Logan was presenting the awards. I think we were about halfway through when she leant into the microphone and said, “I can’t believe how many women are here.” Representing women at a senior corporate level is something of which Guernsey can be particularly proud.

If they do one thing, what should every person do to promote women in the workplace in 2024?
I grew up in a family where the only male at home was my dad. He was extremely keen on my sister and I having careers and being financially independent.

As a society, I think we are slowly moving towards gender equity. In Scotland, when I first studied law, the vast majority of people in the class were men. Now, over 50% of the entrance students into law degrees are female.

Though not only for women, I believe that nurturing talent through mentoring is crucial for the workplace. Within my own team, I mentor people with a view to enabling them to reach further and realise their full potential. Offering practical support is vital in helping redress the gender balance. Things are slowly changing for the better in the Financial Services industry, but there is still a long way to go in terms of providing people with the necessary tools to succeed. Mentoring helps to open peoples’ eyes to new possibilities and support those who may be shyer or more hesitant to challenge themselves. I believe it is the only way to shape things for the better.