International Women's Day 2022

7th March 2022

In recognition of International Women's Day 2022, we wanted to share with you historic images of our Society and celebrate how far we have progressed with equality and female representation at the Vernon.

Below you can see how our Board of Directors looked 40, 50 and 60 plus years ago:

Compared to our current Board of 2022, which has a 50/50 split of female representation.


Currently, we have four women on our board. They are Susan Jee (Chair of the Board), Paula Dillon, Jenny Quirke and Judith Aspin.

For International Women's Day, our leading ladies have kindly shared their personal stories of their own career paths as women working in the finance industry, along with some advice for young women entering the world of work. We hope reading their stories inspires you to continue to develop, pursue your career aspirations and celebrate the achievements of our brilliant senior female leaders.

Judith Aspin:

"From a young age, my dad recommended getting a qualification as 'you will always be able to get a job even if you have a career break to have kids'. He also advised not to go into financial services as it was very sexist.  He was a bank branch manager and then moved into Inspection, so he knew the industry. I followed the first piece of advice but not the second! I qualified as a charted accountant with KPMG and then moved to a bank. My early experiences at the bank were interesting but generally I was accepted as a valued colleague, despite comments like ‘I will treat you as I would like my daughter to be treated!’

To make matters worse, I liked the Treasury-side of banking and that was even more male-dominated.  I went to a meeting with a software supplier and I remarked to a colleague that I didn’t know how the presenter knew who I was. He told me to look round, as I was the only woman in the room! I'm glad to say, that is not the case now and we are very fortunate to have a diverse board.  Throughout my career, I have not worried about being a woman and I have just got on and done my job to the best of my abilities, which is how it should be for everyone.  There have been times when I have seen and experienced discrimination, including being criticised for giving a pregnant woman a job. However, if you see beyond a period of maternity leave, then they were a great colleague.

My advice to any young ladies starting out on their career, would be the same as to any young person, follow your talents, work hard and to paraphrase my dad, get a qualification, as it will always be useful."

Jenny Quirke:

"I qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant in 2001 whilst working for Zurich insurance, and as I was living in the Isle of Man at the time there were a lot of opportunities in Financial Services. I moved to my first Finance Director position in 2005 with Close Bank, and I also worked for Santander and Nationwide. I made the decision to pursue a Non-Executive Director career following the closure of the Nationwide office in the Isle of Man, and I joined the Vernon Board in January 2018. I really enjoy my role as Chair of the Audit Committee, and I also Chair the Audit & Risk Committee for the Council of Licenced Conveyancers, who are a regulator.

My advice would be to think about what interests you, especially if you want to undertake further studies or a professional qualification. Studying whilst also working full time can be challenging, but if you enjoy the subject and have a real interest it is easier. And always think of your goal and what you want to achieve, especially during studying and exams, it will be worth it."

Paula Dillon:

"I qualified as a lawyer in 1986, which was hardly the Dark Ages but even then the profession was dominated by men. I specialised in property development and the property industry was even more male-dominated. Whilst attitudes towards women were less than ideal, I realised that it worked to my advantage because people remembered a woman in a man's world, and if you were good at your job many of the senior, more old-fashioned business owners were ridiculously impressed. That is not to say that there were not issues to be dealt with, and there was no recognition of how unacceptable sexual harassment (or even assault) were and that is something I am delighted to see has changed along with the progress of women in the legal profession. 

I had no female role models but there are many around now and it is so important that senior women help those who are coming along behind them. If I had any advice for women starting out, it would be that you can be excellent without being perfect. Driving yourself into the ground trying to be perfect at everything is pointless when all that is required is to be good enough. Also, don't feel that it is a weakness to ask for help and guidance - people are usually only too pleased to offer it and you will achieve so much more by doing that than you ever will if you try and do everything on your own. And finally, if you are lucky enough to have a job that you enjoy (most of the time, at least), remind yourself every day how lucky you are and help other women to achieve the same."


There's still more we can do, that's why it's important to support awareness days like International Women's Day. We all have a part to play in creating an equal, fair and supportive society; governments, businesses and individuals must all work together towards a common goal - equality.

To find out more about International Women's Day, visit here.

Judith Aspin

Finance Director
  • About Judith:

    Judith is a senior Finance and Treasury professional who joined the Society in 2016, bringing with her extensive knowledge of managing financial risk. She has held senior finance positions at the Co-operative Banking Group.

Susan Jee

  • About Susan:

    Susan is a chartered accountant and has extensive experience of managing financial and strategic issues.

Jenny Quirke

Non-Executive Director
  • About Jenny:

    Jenny is a chartered accountant with vast experience of managing change and financial risk. Jenny has held senior roles with a major building society and high street bank.

Paula Dillon

Non-Executive Director
  • About Paula:

    Paula was a commercial real estate lawyer for over three decades and the first-ever female President of Leeds Chamber of Commerce.