Felicity Emmett awarded position on Management Today’s 35 Under 35 list for 2023
Felicity is Fable Data’s Chief Strategy Officer and has today been recognised in Management Today’s annual 35 Women Under 35 list which celebrates the UK’s most impressive women in business.
Felicity joined Fable Data three and a half years ago as Planning Director and Chief of Staff. Today she is our Chief Strategy Officer, working closely with our CEO and COO to drive strategic and operational success. She is responsible for leading multiple business functions to sustainably and strategically grow Fable Data as a pioneering business in the alternative data industry.
We asked Felicity what this momentous recognition means to her and the context for her success.
What does this recognition mean to you?
I feel a heavy responsibility to any groups of people who feel like they may not belong in leadership positions, to represent them at all times. It’s important to me that they can see that leadership is attainable. I’ve not wanted to intentionally be a role model per se, but just be myself. I challenge the idea that often we’re told as women to be ‘more like a [traditional!] man’ if we want to succeed, to present ourselves as more traditional forms of what we believe to be powerful or respectable people. I work hard to make visible who I am, authentically. I don’t try to “be more male” – yes, I can be assertive which may be seen as a typically male trait, but I want to show that it’s not just traditional structures that get you to the top.
Why is this so important in certain industries?
In the data and technology industry it’s necessary for women to make a proactive and concerted effort in this way because we still suffer under-representation of diverse backgrounds. We have to remind people that data and technology can be accessible to all and that you can find places where you can grow and be respected. Indeed, my degree wasn’t STEM and this hasn’t held me back – it’s never too late to get into this sector!
I’m fortunate that my peers and other leaders in the business have never looked at me and thought ‘you’re too young for this’. I hope that now that I’m part of the current leadership cohort at Fable Data, I can help others realise their future potential.
How much of a part has Fable played in you receiving this award?
I joined Fable as a contractor to help the business launch with the intention to leave after 6 weeks! And here I am three and a half years later. The minute I got through the door, I knew the company was unique. I never imagined I’d be somewhere like Fable with the opportunities I’ve had. Luke, our CEO, has worked very hard to pull the right values forward – we’re a very values driven business. I’ve been given a lot of opportunity and trust and not all organisations give their people this level of respect. If they do, the company structure doesn’t always allow individuals to take action with that respect enough to make an impact. At Fable I feel we have a really special culture where we don’t ask about things that other companies might hinder you on e.g. age, gender, background. So I really feel that I’ve had no obstacles here.
What compelled you to apply?
For me it was a ‘practice as you preach’ moment: I felt compelled to apply because instinctively we’re trained to be modest about our achievements, but I challenge others to be proud of themselves – the dichotomy was suddenly clear. I work extremely hard (as we all do) and it’s paying off. I felt like maybe for once I should take a moment to reflect on this with regards to myself, not just the business.
What do you think made your application stand out?
At a basic level, I’m in a leadership position aged 35 and have managed this in a way that has gained the respect of people much more experienced than me.
I also think the context around this award is important. Fable Data is growing and succeeding, and I (amongst many others) perform a pivotal role in this growth and success. Equally, it’s because of Fable Data that I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had. Ultimately, the proof is in the people around me and their experience of me and my impact on Fable. Really it’s because of the extremely kind words of my colleagues which made up a lot of my application for the award!
What message would you give to future female leaders who might look to apply?
Do it! Don’t stand in your own way; I’ve been really conflicted in myself throughout this process, and it’s a good lesson to share. I’ve never got in the way of my own career progression, so why am I tempted to stop myself from recognising the achievements in my career? Ask those around you what they perceive as your strengths to apply rather than listening solely to your own voice. If you can’t give yourself the reflection you deserve then ask people you trust and respect the same, and TAKE IT! The application process itself was also very useful – I’ve written my CV for the first time in years!