Julie-Ann Haines joined the Principality Building Society in 2007, building and developing its e-commerce offering. In 2010, she was appointed Director of IT & e-channels and at the end of 2012, promoted to Customer Director, responsible for ensuring that the Society stays well ahead of the rapidly-changing nature of its customer base. Julie-Ann’s new role saw her appointment to the Group Board.
The role of Customer Director is designed to ensure a unified, consistent experience for Principality Group customers across all channels of the business, offering the right products and a service level consistent with what customers expect. Julie-Ann is responsible for marketing, distribution and operations at the building society. Julie-Ann is also responsible for providing a strong customer service operation that we consider to be instrumental in meeting the ambitious growth plans set out by the building society by 2017.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
Although, I studied Accountancy at University, I quickly came to realise through working in my father’s retail business that I much preferred customer facing roles!
I went on to study my Masters in International Marketing in Scotland. I was the youngest on the course and one of only four students for the UK. Following my Masters, I started working for a subsidiary of WPP, one of the world’s largest marketing services organisation, which introduced me to the world of advertising and branding. I worked for clients such as Fords, Haagen Dazs and Laura Ashley. The work was strategic, reporting the results of customer research to clients at board level.
Following that, I joined Sainsbury’s as market researcher, and then became their Fresh Food Marketing Planning Manager. I was most proud of building up the organic fresh food proposition which over-took Waitrose in market share.
I relocated to Cardiff in 1998 to set up home and family. I worked in Sales and Marketing traveling across Europe, for Reckitt Benckiser, one of the world’s largest household and pharmaceutical companies. I spent more time working away from home than being at home.
I had a spell at Halifax Bank of Scotland. I found the culture there was very difference. I then moved to my current organisation Principality Building Society. My first challenge was to setup the digital side of the business. I am currently responsible for all customer facing areas of the Principality, which amounts to 550 staff.
How has your life experience shaped you as an individual?
I’ve learnt to be more of a risk taker, the older I get the more confident I am. Creating self-belief is a challenge for many women. I’ve always been quite strategic, big picture thinking. I worked in my Dad’s business from 11 years of age. Being the boss’s daughter, I didn’t wanted staff to think I was there to make up the numbers so I set the example. This very much framed my business values.
My business values have always been the same:- good work ethic, the more you put in the more you get out. I very much value that in others and focussing on creating long-term value by focussing on the needs of others .
What have the highlights and challenges been during your time at Principality?
My biggest highlights to date has been winning the Best Internet Saving Account at the Money Facts Awards 2013. In terms of challenge, it has to be balancing home and work commitments.
What characteristics do you think are vital to be a good leader?
Have courage, be a good listener and be prepared to make decisions and make mistakes.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I feel there is still some subconscious discrimination. The politics of the organisation, the way ‘stuff gets done’ requires women to change their style to ensure they have the impact they need to have.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I’ve had mentoring from senior colleagues. It’s very helpful as it allows you the time to think in a very safe environment and to test some of your initial thoughts.
Who are your role models?
It has to be my Dad. I so admire his braveness.
What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?