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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Meridyth Park, Head of Marketing for CMC Invest UK

Meridyth Park, Head of Marketing for CMC Invest UK

ARTICLE SUMMARY

We recently spoke with Meridyth park, head of marketing for CMC Invest UK, about her career journey so far.

As Head of Marketing for CMC Invest UK, Meridyth Park draws upon her creative roots from her early ad agency days – BBDO, Grey, and DMB&B (now Publicis) – and her financial services tenure at UBS and Bank of America.  While at the latter, she led brand strategy for the global corporate & investment bank, as well as Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. 

She also led the brand launch for BofA’s banking & investing loyalty program and their online self-directed, investing business – Merrill Edge.  She’s a big proponent of bringing your true self into the workplace, as can be heard by her groan-worthy mom jokes and impromptu 80s music/film references.

WHAT LED YOU TO A CAREER IN FINTECH? 

The less interesting, but realistic answer is that being in financial services, you have to embrace technology and incorporate it into your customer proposition.  If you don’t, you’re doomed to be classified as a ‘dinosaur’.

The more interesting answer is that I’m a bit of a tech geek, always have been.  My first computer was a Commodore 64.  And later, I was the first kid in my class to get dial-up internet, anxiously waiting to connect and hear the modem make those iconic scratching and screeching tones. 

I love the limitless possibilities that technology and innovation can provide, but I also understand with that kind of power, comes responsibility (to quote Spiderman), especially when it comes to financial services.  Innovation creates efficiencies and customer value, but it could also lead to negligence.  That’s why I love what I do – marketing for a fintech – because marketing isn’t all about selling.  It’s about being the voice of our customers as their advocate, while you build fintech solutions that fulfil their needs. 

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

Surprisingly or perhaps not so much given the low percentage of women in fintech, I do not have a role model.  And that’s okay.  In fact, I don’t believe in role models.  I don’t believe in putting people up on pedestals.  No one is perfect and anyone who seems like they have it all is simply using an Instagram filter. 

I prefer to take my inspiration from all levels – seniors, peers, and juniors.  I take note of qualities that I admire and those that frustrate, to influence how I might handle or lead different situations, based on my own style and personality.  You can’t mimic someone else’s approach if it doesn’t reflect who you are. 

For example, I’ve always admired people who have calm delivery styles, like my peer Alister Sneddon – our Head of Product.  However, the more I thought about why I admire these characteristics, like Alister’s demeanour, I realised it isn’t about them being calm, but about them being able to convey what they want to say in an effective and clear manner.  That’s what I wanted to achieve, but I had to work within my delivery style for it to feel genuine.  So now, I mentally organise my thoughts into “bullet points” and present them with my usual flair and positive energy.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

There isn’t one moment that I’m most proud of.  It’s the amalgamation of all my experiences – good and bad – that I’m proud of.  It hasn’t been the stereotypical “climb the corporate ladder” journey.  I’ve had some truly supportive managers, but I’ve also had a few terrible ones.  I’ve been fired, been made redundant, held temp jobs, persisted through the dot-com bubble and the 2008 financial crisis. It has been my perseverance through those bad times that I am most proud of. That is where I was able to acknowledge my weaknesses, lean into my strengths, and most importantly, kept faith that I would ultimately succeed and be where I am now.

Going through career highs and lows has led me to this dream role at CMC Invest.  I am now on the ground floor of something that I believe can be truly incredible in helping people better understand their finances and make smarter investing choices for their individual situation. 

HOW DO YOU TAKE TIME OUT FROM WORK? WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO WIND DOWN?

My job rocks.  Don’t get me wrong, there are bad days.  But there is such a great energy at the office – from my incredible team and colleagues, to the shared vision we have.  We work hard, but we also banter and laugh all the time.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously.  I don’t feel like I need to wind down from work.  I’m energized from it!

However, outside of my job, I spend time with my gorgeous little boy (totally not biased whatsoever), whose turning into a mini geek like me.  I binge-watch shows like Ted Lasso, Loot, and The Great British Bake-Off.  I follow soccer, or as you, Brits call it, football. 

WHEN IT COMES TO LEADERSHIP, DO YOU HAVE ANY KEY PRINCIPLES?    

Be transparent, fair, and above all, a cheerleader. 

My team knows that I am completely transparent.  I don’t hide anything – whatever I know, they know.  Some leaders hold on to knowledge as leverage or power, but I think that’s counterintuitive.  If my team has the full picture, then they’ll be able to perform at their best level and help me solve for the challenges we face.  No one can deliver well with only partial information. 

Fairness should also be applied in all aspects of what you do.  It requires empathy and understanding of others’ goals and motivations while presenting a balanced view of your own objectives.  And the Golden Rule applies – Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.  While I’m open and honest with my feedback to the team, I expect the same from them about my own performance.   

Finally, be a cheerleader for your company’s vision and for your team.  As a leader, it’s not about being the smartest person in the room, but about bringing out the best in others.  We are facing challenging times and it could be easy to lose sight of your goals.  A cheerleader focuses on the broader team, inspires them, and encourages them to continue forward. 

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

I wouldn’t say anyone has ever actively stopped my development, but I have unfortunately experienced managers, who took little to no interest in my career.  And while that’s not the mark of a good boss, it did teach me that the responsibility for finding opportunities to learn and develop shouldn’t stop with your manager. You must take control and continue learning on your own.  The industry is constantly under transformation.  If you don’t take the initiative, you’ll easily fall behind.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Of course, and I still do!  Anyone who says otherwise is again using that Instagram filter.  Even in my current role, I face anxieties. However, I have learned that you can’t let yourself spiral when those anxieties hit.  You must think methodically and take everything one step at a time.  Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.  If you just focus on the end goal, it can feel like a daunting task.  But if you break things down and focus on one thing at a time and take things day by day, you can review your performance, adjust, and optimise. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN THE FINTECH SPACE? 

Don’t take no for an answer.  Ask for that promotion.  Ask for that raise.  Ask for the project you want to lead.  Don’t accept a situation at face value.  Know your worth and ask why.  Learn from that why, address it, and find solutions to remove the why from the equation. 

At a previous company when I returned from maternity leave, I didn’t feel comfortable in the work environment I found myself in. Of course, I had the option to leave, however, I fought to stay and for my rights as a returning to-work mother.  I got proactive about my situation – I networked, had conversations with HR, and eventually transitioned to a more strategic role where I felt valued and supported.

So don’t accept subpar situations.  Fight for your worth.  And think of the other women after you and what you can do to help pave the way for their success. 

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