The new power brokers: meet the alpha females taking over the City
As Boys Will Be Boys goes into rehearsals we’re exploring what it’s like to be a woman in the City. First up is this, frankly terrifying, article by Anna Hart published in the Evening Standard earlier this year.
When investment banking analyst Camilla Andrews arrives at her desk at 7.50am on a Monday morning she always feels a million dollars — and often she’ll already have spent a few hundred. She leaves her Bermondsey flat at 5.30am in the UberX she dialled from bed to get to Barry’s Bootcamp in Euston for the 6am class. By 7.25am she’s sipping a Fuel Bar peanut butter whey protein smoothie in Percy & Reed’s Spitalfields salon, tipping Jenni an extra £15 for opening early for her blow-dry.
Her form-fitting, black and white £990 McQueen dress, which she pairs with sky-high silver Charlotte Olympia heels, is freshly dry-cleaned and was delivered to her doorman at 5am via Laundrapp. Her eyelash extensions are by Daxita at Atherton Cox in Mayfair; her matte grey nails courtesy of the Cheeky Parlour on Redchurch Street. ‘By making sure I always look and feel my best by 8am on Monday morning,’ says the 29-year-old:
‘I’m always ready to face the boys.’
Zhenya Burlac, 31, an investment banker at a European investment bank with offices in Canary Wharf, has a similar routine. She also starts her day at 5.30am. Sometimes she’ll squeeze in a £25 Pilates class near her Notting Hill home before commuting east. She has her hair coloured monthly by Realhair in Chelsea at £200 a time, and frequent £100 peels and oxygen-boosting facials at EF Medispa in Kensington keep her morning beauty routine minimal. Her work uniform is Balmain, Joseph Altuzarra, ‘Roksanda for colour’ and Stella McCartney. ‘If I have a client meeting, I’ll get a blow-dry before work,’ she says. ‘I work with high net worth individuals from Russia, Azerbaijan and the Central and Eastern European regions, and quite often I’ll be the only woman in the room. When I come in looking and feeling great, it puts a smile on clients’ faces; it relaxes them because they know I’m in control.’
Andrews and Burlac are emblematic of a new breed of City woman: fiercely ambitious, unapologetically glamorous — and determined not to put a single Nicholas Kirkwood-clad foot wrong. Because it’s not just their appearance that is impeccable: being ‘bulletproof’, as Andrews calls it, extends to their behaviour in and out of work hours.
Not long ago, tradition had it that to make it in finance as a woman you had to live it up like the lads, drinking them under the table and being ‘a good laugh’ about team jaunts to Spearmint Rhino.
In the office, you had to play down your femininity to avoid looking like a ‘bimbo’ or a ‘slapper’. The accepted strategy in meetings was to out-macho the men. As Katushka Giltsoff, 55, senior partner at consulting firm The Miles Partnership, who has two decades of experience headhunting and consulting in the financial services, puts it: ‘It used to be about beating boys at their own game.’ No longer: ‘We can express ourselves and be glamorous. We really do have it all, providing we know how to manage it.’
This article was published in the Evening Standard on 23 March 2016. To read it in full click here.
Our co-production with Headlong, Boys Will Be Boys runs from 25 June – 30 July at Bush Hall. You can find out more and book tickets by clicking here.