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We Rise By Lifting Others

A proud South Londoner of Bangladeshi and Irish heritage, Joy Crookes is a multihyphenate artist shaped by a rich tapestry of influences. She’s a singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist. In 2020, Joy made the prestigious BRITS Rising Star Award shortlist, as well as placing fourth on the BBC Sound Poll, and headlining ‘ones to watch’ lists from YouTube Music, Amazon Music, MTV Push, NME and beyond. Renowned for her live performances, Joy has played Glastonbury, BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Later…With Jools Holland, as well as selling out her own headline tours across the UK and Europe.


Kirstie Mackey

Kirstie Mackey is a Managing Director and Head of Citizenship & Consumer Affairs for Barclays and is responsible for driving citizenship in the UK.


"The advice I would give to myself if I was a teenager is to be ambitious and be bold, but also don’t be afraid to take risks because taking risks and making mistakes is ultimately who you become and that does shape your personality"


Sponsor Kirstie Mackey (Barclays) for The Female Lead by Sane Seven small.jpg

I grew up in Fleet in Hampshire and was surrounded by a supportive and extended family. I am the middle child in the family with an older sister and younger brother. I moved away to study at Bournemouth and then worked in London, but when I had a family I knew I wanted to raise them close to my family so I moved back to Fleet. My parents and my sister and her family also still live there – it is lovely for my two children to have other role models around them.


At school I would have been described as chatty, confident and very caring. When I was very young I wanted to be a nurse or a teacher, but as I got older, I changed my mind. I looked at what various members of my family were doing -  my dad was a journalist and my auntie was in PR and I decided to set myself a goal of getting into the communications industry. 


I was fortunate that during my degree I had a third year working placement within Media Relations at Barclays and was offered a role with them following my finals. The placement with them was really varied and interesting. I would encourage people to have a placement as part of their studies wherever they can. 


I had my two children in quick succession and after my second maternity leave I knew that I wanted to do something other than media relations. I wanted a role that focused more on giving back to society.


When I was younger careers advice was quite patchy and I wanted to address this and help young people. I created a programme called Lifeskills in 2013. The aim of the programme is to help young people build confidence, give them an aspiration to succeed and equip them with the skills to move from education into work. I pitched the idea to Barclays internally and then worked with charities and stakeholders to get their thoughts and feedback so as I could then tailor the plan.


I am incredibly proud that LifeSkills has helped more than 13 million people since its creation. We have a Youth Advisory Council, an Education Advisory Council and a council made up of key education and business influencers so that we can be sure that the programme delivers value and is having a significant impact in the UK.

I was lucky to have working role models around me who worked in different sectors that I was interested in. I know that not everyone is as fortunate. Part of the reason for setting up LifeSkills was to create a more level playing field so that we can open up access to opportunities for every young person. We help people see that there are different careers, offer work experience, talk about mental health issues, embrace inclusivity & diversity and help them manage their finances better. 

One of the best things about my job is seeing the direct impact on young people. The programme can help people understand that they all have a future out there - they all have skills that can contribute towards society and they are worthy of something.  I go into schools and see the progress that beneficiaries of the programme are making. I see them leaving school more confident, having raised their aspirations and more able to communicate. They can see a career path ahead of them.


My advice to my teenage self would be to be ambitious and be bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Making mistakes helps shape your personality and influences who you become.  Have a strong work ethic and work hard to achieve your goals but have fun doing it as you will be spending a lot of your time at work. Find what you are really good at and what you enjoy doing - the more passionate you are about your work, the more you will achieve at it.


There are more and more women going into work in the financial services industry and more of them are seen at senior positions. If someone is interested in a career in the financial services industry I would recommend that they try and get work experience with a firm - It can show you different roles across an industry – a career with a company like Barclays could involve banking, communications, HR or marketing. 


At Barclays we invest a lot of time in making sure we have strong role models and networks so we can understand gender diversity in the workplace. We have reverse mentoring so that young women can meet with male colleagues more senior to them and see what challenges they may face. This helps understanding on both sides. There is still improvement to be made and I would like to see a more inclusive and diverse workforce – it has improved a lot since I have been at Barclays, but we do still need to embrace many more different backgrounds. 


There are lots of things I still want to achieve. I want to do more to tackle socio-economic differences in the economy, some of which have been magnified as a result of the pandemic. Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs is very important as they are the lifeblood of the UK economy. Another area I am passionate about is addressing the geographical differences in the economy – we need to make sure that rural and coastal economies are getting the support they need to grow and thrive.

Don't be afraid to take risks. Making mistakes helps shape your personality and influence who you become. 

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