Kerrie Webb

I’m Kerrie Webb, the Head of Group Technology Finance at Legal & General. I’ve been at Legal & General for 14 years and first joined as a customer service administrator in what was the Mature Savings part of the business, as an evening job while finishing my undergraduate degree in Brighton.

I’ve had a number of different jobs within the business, working as an expert customer service consultant, a portfolio analyst and a senior portfolio analyst, before an opportunity came up in Digital to be a portfolio manager. Even though I didn’t know a huge amount about digital and definitely wasn’t a coder, I decided to give it a go. I’ve been in Digital ever since, becoming Head of Digital Commercial Performance last year. I took up my role as Head of Group Technology Finance earlier this year.

More personally, my two biggest passions are reading and learning. I’m naturally very curious and love that there are always new things to be discovered and explored in the world.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I failed some of my A-levels as in my first year I had a period of homelessness and upheaval. Being a lawyer was the only path I’d considered, I didn’t have any back-up plans. I was fortunate that because of my academic history and character that Brighton University offered me a placement for a degree in Cultural and Historical Studies. In hindsight this was a great move as it taught me critical reasoning and how to formulate compelling arguments both of which have been hugely useful. Also, if I hadn’t studied in Brighton I wouldn’t have started working at Legal & General.

Since then, there have been several people across the course of my career – mainly women in senior roles, who have really helped me find a direction when I’ve needed it and acted as role models and advocates. But, I wouldn’t say that I planned my career, or that even if I had, it would have turned out as it has! I’ve always just wanted to learn and keep pushing ahead.

From starting at Legal & General doing an evening job while finishing my degree, to my current role as Head of Group Technology Finance, it’s been an unexpected journey, and definitely not one I had mapped out in my school years, but it’s one I’m incredibly proud of. On reflection I’ve always had an eye on the future but been open to saying yes to opportunities to learn and grow in the present and that’s served me better than having a blinkered career goal.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Self-confidence has been the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome in my career. I’ve felt like there can be a perception that to succeed you need to be an A-type, very gregarious and extroverted. I’d describe myself as an introvert and because I didn’t fit that mould, in my early 20s in particular, I didn’t feel like I was ever good enough.

I’m still quite introverted now, but I make an active choice to challenge myself. I’ve found that through purposeful work, and by pushing myself out my comfort zone, I feel empowered to be a more confident version of myself. Over the years, my inner confidence has been strengthened – this is partly due to experience and age, but also because at Legal & General, I’ve always been given not just a seat at the table, but encouraged to have a voice too. Now, one of my biggest ambitions is to show others that you can have quiet confidence and still pursue whatever path you want.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

The culture at Legal & General has been a huge factor in the success I’ve achieved. I’ve always felt able to be myself and that I work in an inclusive, empowering environment. Over the years I have had bright pink, blue, purple, green and even rainbow hair – I think that it’s become so much clearer, in the last decade in particular, that if people are able to express themselves and be comfortable in their surroundings then they’re able to contribute their whole self and produce richer outcomes.

I’ve been at Legal & General for my whole career, and I think that really speaks to the culture and people around me. I really love the people that I work with and am fortunate to be surrounded by very engaged and knowledgeable people. I still meet up with people from most of the teams I’ve worked in. Over my 14 years at Legal & General I’ve built up really strong and caring friendships and I think that community feeling of a team is important to me and for me to contribute to.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Think about your purpose – why are you trying to excel? Who benefits? Pinpoint your drivers. A tip I hold close to heart is that sometimes you have to breathe in before you can breathe out and that means it’s ok to assess or pause sometimes before acting. By going at 100 miles an hour, you not only risk crashing but it also means that everything around you is a blur, I’ve definitely had times where I’ve not been balanced in my approach to work and life and if the last year has taught us anything it’s to enjoy all aspects of life. Lastly, I’d say increase your knowledge. In my experience, women are often told to work on confidence and resilience, however there’s also practical experience we need to develop too. Invest in all aspects of yourself.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think it’s the awareness that tech isn’t just about STEM based experience. If I think about the people I work with, we need a massively diverse set of knowledge and skills in order to develop and release effective products. I work in tech but I don’t code, my expertise is people, culture and finance – so probably not things that would fall into the stereotype of tech. If I could wave a wand it would be removing the stereotype of what “Tech” actually is! Ultimately, we need to recognise that everyone is a consumer, contributor and creator of Tech even if it’s unconscious.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Above all, I’d recommend having a diversity across the topics you read and the resources you use. A book I love and have gifted many times is “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado-Perez as it highlights and examines the gender data gap and data bias. It’s had such an impact on how I approach things in terms of looking for what’s not been included as well as what has. Resource wise, what works for me is breadth so I read as much as I can; from The Economist to gaming releases. Within my team we have an “Agile Book Club (ABC)”, the discussions it prompts are usually more valuable to me than the texts themselves, because it creates a space to hear other people’s thoughts and experiences.

For me a formalisation and expansion of knowledge comes from studying, I completed an MBA in 2019 and my electives were in Digital Economy and Culture. The compulsory elements may not have been things I would have chosen to pursue normally but they greatly expanded my understanding and also gave me a confidence to use my experience alongside more academic research. I also then had a new cohort around me that not only expanded my network but also gave fresh insight of other sectors providing valuable diversity of thought.

I would also recommend getting involved with events and groups. For example, SheSays have a Brighton chapter that I’m part of, led by Rifa Thorpe-Tracey. These events inform and inspire as well as providing the opportunity to broaden your network. Rifa is so passionate about what she puts her energy to and it passes onto the attendees. I think that’s it, passion. Tech is broad, so find the aspect that fills your cup and invest in that. Be curious: You never know where that will lead and how something new can enrich your thoughts.

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