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Judith Codling

Judith Codling

Judith Codling, Pension Trustee Executive and Director of Client Services at ZEDRA

  • Location: St. Albans, UK 

  • Title: Director of Client Services

  • Company: ZEDRA 

  • Sector: Financial Services, Corporate Pensions

  • Degree: Master of Business Administration (MBA) – Kingston Business School, Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) - University of Bedfordshire, BSc (Hons) Earth Sciences – Oxford Brookes University

How does your usual day look like?

It’s true to say that every day is quite different for me, but here goes ... 

I generally get up at 6:30am and start the day with a cup of tea whilst checking my emails, then shower and get ready for the day. I always take an early morning walk or run (recently, we’ve also been redoing the Couch to 5K running programme – the hardest part of that being going through the front door!) with Lexi, my rescue dog, she’s happy to go out whatever the weather! 

Then I spend an hour or so responding to emails or writing and reviewing papers for the next Board meeting I’m due to attend. If I’m going to the office in St. Albans or London, I wait for the traffic rush to subside and then take the train, doing a little more work whilst travelling (by going a little later I can usually get a seat with a table!).

At the office, I would usually have a number of internal meetings and catch ups with different members of the team. Then a couple of calls  with clients and their advisers. 

Summer brings the event season, so that means leaving the office around 6pm and then on to an event, the last one was at the British Museum. It’s always lovely to see old friends and make new ones! By 9pm I’m ready to leave so that’d be a walk, a train, a taxi and then flopping into bed by 11pm. 

What are the things you like the most about your job?

People, people, people – whether they are colleagues, clients or other collaborators I am lucky to work with lots of different people and they are endlessly fascinating – I think I’m a frustrated psychologist at heart! I also like the variety of what I get involved in, mixing the internal management role with client facing delivery and little bit of business development.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day?

My most used skills are communication and organisation.

I need to be an active listener to really understand what clients or colleagues want / need but also need a voice to provide direction and guidance to the teams I work with.

Motivation and engagement are all important in a client service business so communication and clarity are key to that. My role supporting Trustee Boards involves a lot of organisation and ensuring none of the balls get dropped! 

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

Hmmm, that’s difficult as I can’t recall a specific day, but it would always be a day when I was able to combine my love of being with people alongside my love of learning and would be topped off with some chilled out social time!

What has been your greatest challenge on your career path and how did you overcome it?

My biggest career challenge was also a personal challenge, in 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that meant, for the first time ever, I had to take a period of sickness leave whilst I underwent surgery (twice) and then radiotherapy.

I found it extremely difficult to find focus for my days but I was simply too emotionally and physically exhausted to work. Returning after 3 months absence, I threw myself back into work and managed to pick up where I had left off!

What is something you had to learn to become better at your job?

Not always doing everything and learning to effectively delegate without micro managing others. I think I’ve got better but one you might have to ask the team about!

How did you get to become a Director of Client Services?

When I started at ZEDRA Inside Pensions, I joined in a relatively junior role but perseverance and doing the right thing for colleagues and clients alike was recognised and I rapidly climbed the corporate ladder.

What are the top three pieces of advice you would give to other women aiming to achieve long-term success in their careers?

  • Work hard but balance that with your outside of work life. 

  • Be open, be authentic and maintain your integrity.

  • Have a plan and make sure you define what long-term success means for you – it doesn’t have to be status or money!

Professional networking for women matters because…

It enables us to make connections with likeminded individuals who are able to share their experiences and how they have overcome the challenges of being a woman, whether that’s time out for children, menopause or anything else that impacts us differently to men.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I believe I am a resilient leader, having faced a large number of challenges and successfully navigated my way through them. I am open and approachable, always giving time to others facing challenges and coaching them to help them find their own solutions.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

I guess this has been a lifelong challenge, but in the last 20 years or so I have had a regular yoga practice and I find this time allows me to let go and be present in the moment, setting aside thinking about the past and the future.

What would have been your alternative career path?

When I was 44, I took a break from the pensions industry and retrained as a middle-years school teacher. At 56, I trained and qualified to be a yoga teacher. I think my love of learning inspires me to want to teach others!

What strategies or practices have you found most effective in building and maintaining confidence in your professional life, especially during challenging times?

Know who you can trust to be in your inner circle and who you can’t. Having a small inner circle has been most effective for me. But that doesn’t mean keeping everything to myself, I truly believe if people share a little bit more about who they are, what’s going on for them and their challenges we can work together to help each other!

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey, what made her stand out?

Another difficult question as I have mostly worked with male colleagues and bosses. If I go back to my first job in pensions (in 1989!), it would have to be Sue Hewitson who had a calm way of getting people to want to do things for her and for our clients. She was always kind and made you feel special. 

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer? 

  • Question: What trait do you most value in others and why?

  • Answer: For me, it’s always a combination of honesty, integrity and kindness so I know where I stand, there are no surprises and every message is delivered in a caring way to ensure it does not adversely impact the recipient. 

The previous interviewee left a question for you:

  • Question: If you were on the cover of “Forbes” magazine what would the cover caption say?

  • Answer: The embodiment of a resilient leader

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • What's your superpower: Resilience

  • Favourite restaurant (state name and city): Bar Azita, Harpenden (local)

  • Favourite fashion brand: Munthe 

  • Favourite beauty product: Aurelia Cell Revitalising Day moisturiser

  • Favourite perfume: Miss Dior

  • Book recommendation (state title and author): 'I am Pilgrim' by Terry Hayes

  • Next holiday destination: Ibiza

  • Your hobby: Yoga

  • What’s your mantra? "In with love, out with hate" (as a breathing exercise)

  • Who inspires you: Sally Clark (my big sister!)

  • Tea or Coffee: Tea 

  • Red wine or White wine: Red

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog

Thank you Judith for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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