Harriet Green talks connecting City talent, lifeboats, piano lessons and how to make a real difference with the married founders of ionStar, Liz and Tim Hughes.
LIKE most couples, Tim and Liz Hughes got to the stage in life where they wanted to start a family. The challenge they faced was that, as successful professional people, they wanted to make the most of their skills and abilities – but also their family life.
“Throughout my career, I’ve watched women above me try to juggle work and family – some successfully, some not so successfully,” says Liz, whose career as a compliance officer spans JP Morgan Chase, AllianceBernstein, Lehman Brothers and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander.After their two children arrived, Liz wanted to work, but couldn’t see herself going part-time for a firm. “I’d been part-time before our first baby, and I just wasn’t willing to play that game. Like others, I’d found that I wasn’t being given the same intensity work-wise”.
But rather than wallow in defeatism, Liz decided to act – to create something that would give her the balance she wanted, and that could offer the same to others. She set up Professional Compliance Consultants in April 2012. It wasn’t the catchiest name, she concedes, but having something that did what it said on the tin “was perfect at the beginning”.
The firm (now called ionStar) offers professional mums, individuals having mid-stage career breaks, and those moving towards the end of their careers and who’d like to cut back, the opportunity to join a network of independent compliance experts. It provides a bespoke service to financial and professional services firms, matching consultant with client.
As Tim explains: “Good compliance can be a massive headache for financial services firms. And there’s a bit of a market inefficiency – a lot of talent is floundering on the sidelines, because there’s no easy way for professionals who have had career breaks to make contact with the companies that need their services”.