Women’s History Month: An Interview with Tanzy Cherry
Women's History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society, and is commemorated by International Women’s Day on March 8th, as well as being observed throughout the month of March in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
First observed as ‘International Women’s Day’ in 1911, Gerda Lerner and the National Women’s History Alliance campaigned tirelessly for greater recognition of the many achievements of women. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared – via presidential proclamation – that the week of March 8 would be ‘National Women’s History Week’. The proclamation read:
‘From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well. As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, 'Women’s History is Women’s Right.' It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.’
In 1987, following a petition of the National Women’s History Project, March was officially designated ‘Women’s History Month’ in the United States. It is now observed internationally.
In celebration of this important month, we’re sitting down with Cherry Godfrey’s COO, Tanzy Cherry, to learn more about her journey, experiences and her vision for the future.
Hello, Tanzy: thanks so much for making time to speak with us. It’s great to get a chance to catch up during Women’s History Month. To kick off, could you tell us about your current responsibilities as COO – and what has your journey been like so far?
My current role is to oversee and manage all operational and administrative aspects of the Cherry Godfrey Group. My primary focus is the Compliance, HR, Marketing and Internal Systems of the Group to ensure that all four jurisdictions are operating as efficiently and cohesively as possible. My role involves regular travel between our Guernsey Head Office, Jersey office, Isle of Man office and more recently, our new Isle of Wight office.
I joined Cherry Godfrey full time in 2015 after graduating from Oxford Brookes University with a BSc (Hons) in Economics, Finance and International Business. My remit during the first few years was to get to know the company inside out. I spent six to twelve months in each of the departments to evaluate the processes in place and make recommendations for improvement where necessary. In 2016 I also focused on the set up our Isle of Man office, recruiting key personnel and assisting in all aspects of the start-up: from finding premises to obtaining WIFI. In 2019 I became the Chief Operating Officer for the Cherry Godfrey Group. The first few years in this role have not been without challenge! The world was turned upside down with the Covid-19 pandemic and I became a mother (twice).
During the pandemic, Cherry Godfrey worked hard to support our customers throughout the Crown Dependencies. We contacted as many customers as possible - as often as possible - throughout the lockdowns, working with them to find solutions and support for their individual circumstances. In terms of my role during this period, the focus was on ensuring all teams were able to work from home, and that they were supported - from not only a systems point of view, but also in terms of health and wellbeing. We developed new products that were designed to be more flexible and accommodating of the circumstances customers now found themselves in – which meant co-ordinating a lot internally within the Group to get these to market as quickly as possible.
There was, thankfully, a short break in Guernsey’s Covid-19 experience in between the first and second wave, where Cherry Godfrey decided to expand into the Isle of Wight as part of our strategic growth plan. In September 2021, we were granted our FCA approval and continue to develop unique island products.
Which qualities make a successful female leader?
Namely the confidence to remove the word ‘female’ from this question! To me, the qualities of a successful leader are universal, regardless of gender identity. Integrity, compassion, and drive are all key qualities that I believe make a successful leader. In addition, the ability to recognise, value and foster the talents of those around you. It is important to appreciate that all colleagues have unique skills, experience and abilities and a successful leader is able to encourage those within their team to develop and thrive.
What’s your vision for businesswomen of the future – what would you like to see happen next?
My ideal future scenario would be one of true equity and equality amongst all in business. Not just hiring a woman for a job because an arbitrary quota has been set for diversity within Board composition, but because they were truly the best candidate for the job. A future where someone’s gender isn’t even a consideration, a pause for thought, or a commentary piece would be what I would like to see next. I believe that starts with education. Ensuring that all children are given equitable opportunities for learning, qualifications, training, apprenticeships, etc. is the key to ensuring success in future generations.
Why is it important that more women are represented in leadership roles?
Through diversity of experience, attitudes and skillsets, commerciality and creativity in the workplace will undoubtedly improve. I believe it is important that all of society is represented within leadership roles to bring a wider breadth of knowledge to businesses. By understanding and appreciating society as a whole, businesses can thrive.