Cecily, Motley co-founder, meets Collette, a lawyer at a tech startup in London. Previously she trained and worked as an M&A corporate lawyer in the city and continues to be immersed in fast-paced business environments since moving into the disruptive tech sector. Collette tells us about dressing in her industry, what work-life balance means to her, and how she uses jewellery as a form of self-expression in the work place.
CM: Is there an accepted view of how women and men are meant to look in your industry? But also I suppose you could extend that to, is there a type of uniform?
Collette: The view on how lawyers are expected to dress has changed quite a lot. Traditionally the image of the female lawyer conjures up images of women in fairly predictable dark coloured suits, which sends a message to the world of professionalism and ‘reliability’. I think that image has changed over recent times. Provided your choice of clothing doesn’t affect your ability to deliver the highest standard of work, there tends to be less focus these days on whether you’re wearing a suit while you do it.
CM: Where do you think self-expression comes in when dressing for work, and is there a place for it?
Collette: I think it is in jewellery, I genuinely do. I have a tendency to wear very laid back clothes, I am not one to overdress. If I am working for 14 hours straight I don’t want to be wearing something that I am not comfortable in. Whereas my jewellery is a form of self-expression for me because it doesn’t inhibit what I am doing on an hourly basis.
Collette wears the Motley x Alessandro Petrolati Angel, Islington Necklace in Blue Enamel
CM: What does work-life balance mean to you?
Collette: Work-life balance is the way you are able to divide your energy between your work and your family and friends. Employers that succeed in providing a good work-life balance for employees will undoubtedly in return get back more from more motivated and productive employees. And I guess you don’t know what a good work-life balance is until you finally find it.
CM: If you could change one thing in your industry, what would it be?
Collette: It would be other people's perception of what lawyers do and what work they can help with. Of course the legal function works to protect the business, but we need to move away from the idea of legal being too ‘risk adverse’ and appearing as a hindrance to commercial growth. Legal is, and should be seen, as a ‘business enabler’ that can help support and drive businesses forward.
CM: The power pose is regarded as inspiring confidence in its poser, what do you do to bring you confidence in the working day?
Collette: I love wearing heels, that is my power play. I love the noise they make! I would not travel to work in them but I love changing into them, particularly when I need a confidence-boost because it gives you a different stature and a few inches to my height of 5’5.
CM: What are you most intimidated by?
Collette: Verbal aggression is probably is the most intimidating thing for me. I have experienced meetings in the past where whoever shouts the loudest gets heard, regardless of whether their point is relevant or valid. The lack of self-awareness can be quite alarming and intimidating for me.
CM: What are you most proud of?
Collette: I am proud of my family and friends. The advice and support from the people I respect the most have got me where I am today. They continue to challenge and inspire me, and for that I am very grateful.