International Women's Day 2021

8 March 2021

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that honours the achievements of women from around the world through history. It is a day to mark the advancement of women's equality and celebrate the diverse interests, professions and achievements of women from all backgrounds and cultures.

This year's theme is Choose to Challenge, where challenging each other and ourselves will result in greater positive change. Here at the Company we have some remarkable women among our ranks. These are their stories.

Master Jane Hall

Rebecca Stewart, Liveryman

How did you come through the Company?

I was an Apprentice to Past Master Michael Skinner.

What keeps you coming back to Merchant Taylors’?

I love the community and sense of purpose bubbling away behind the wooden doors of 30 Threadneedle Street. There are so many hard working and committed members of the Company with the principal purposes of constantly developing our charitable activities as well as unifying and celebrating the Company and its members when possible.

What does being a Merchant Taylor mean to you?

It means enormous privilege, but also responsibility. In particular, it is important to me to ensure that I give back to the Company – at least as much as the Company generously bestows on me by way of lunches, dinners and social occasions.

What advice would you give to someone joining the Company today?

Throw yourself into everything the Company offers. There are so many opportunities to meet new people; get involved in the Company's charitable activities, partake in sporting and social occasions and immerse yourself in the Company's history. You've been given a wonderful opportunity and you owe it to yourself and the Company to fully explore everything that it offers.

What is your profession?

I am a Senior Associate in the Tax team at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Establishing my career in a relatively male-dominated sector of law and getting to a place being well-respected and trusted by my colleagues. I was also thrilled when I passed my Chartered Tax Advisor qualification!

Tell us about a passion of yours

I love fashion and gobble up the fashion sections of the newspapers as soon as they are published. I'm also a great lover of wine, and most of my holidays are to wine regions in order to learn more about local wines (wine tasting has to be the ultimate holiday afternoon activity)!

Who has been the greatest influence on your life?

Probably my husband. We met when I was 22 and he was 24, and we have grown up and explored the world together, while learning more about who we are and the things we love.

How have you been occupying your time over lockdown?

I am currently eight months pregnant with my first baby, so principally trying to get through pregnancy whilst working from home!

And your go-to karaoke song?

'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' by Meat Loaf.

Jana Mackintosh, Freeman

How did you come through the Company?

I became a Freeman by Redemption in October 2020.

What were your first impressions of Merchant Taylors'?

The Company, its Court and its members are very welcoming. They truly embrace change and the diversity of the membership, which set them apart from other Livery Companies. I joined during Covid-19, but even through that period of lockdown I have felt the sense of inclusion that comes from Merchant Taylors', and I know that as face-to-face meetings start again the experience is only going to get better. I can’t wait to meet more people and become more involved.

What keeps you coming back to Merchant Taylors'?

The people, the fraternity. It is great being part of a group of people pursuing common interests for the collective good of the communities we live in, especially for those that are less fortunate.

What does being a Merchant Taylor mean to you?

I’ve always loved the City of London, its complex history and its endless possibilities. Being part of the Merchant Taylors' makes me a part of that history and I’m privileged to help shape it for the next generation.

What advice would you give to someone joining the Company today?

Be ready to get involved as much as you can. What you get out of it will always exceed what you put in.

What is your profession?

I am the Managing Director for Payments and Innovation at UK Finance, the UK’s banking and financial services trade association, representing more than 250 firms across the industry. I thoroughly enjoy my work. I also hold a number of advisory positions and support the City of London and the Lord Mayor on their programmes of work.

Tell us about a passion of yours

I love ballet. I used to dance and trained little ballerinas in my hometown. I enjoy museums and galleries as a way to break away from day-to-day life. I also enjoy the outdoors whenever I can, spending time in the mountains skiing or climbing.

What has been the greatest influence on your life?

Moving to London 14 years ago, from South Africa where I was born. It has truly opened my eyes to endless possibilities. It presents so much diversity, which changed my outlook on many things.

How have you been occupying your time over lockdown?

I changed jobs during lockdown so there’s been a lot of work and learning for me during this time, as for many others. My industry has played a significant role during the pandemic, and I’d like to think I played a part in supporting people during these tough times.

And have there been any unexpected benefits of lockdown for you?

With lockdown and working from home being a constant, I decided to go to South Africa and ended up staying for three months. It was an opportunity I would never otherwise have had. Spending time with my family and my three little nieces was priceless. I did miss the winter weather and snow back in London of course.

Dr Mariyah Selmi, Freeman

How did you come through the Company?

I was Apprenticed to Past Master Peter Magill.

What advice would you give to someone joining the Company today?

Get involved as much as possible! There are so many wonderful opportunities and a chance to be a part of so many educational and charitable projects. Come to as many events as possible; they are a great chance to keep in touch with old friends and meet new people.

What is your profession?

I am a doctor, working as a radiologist.

Tell us about a passion of yours

I love murder mysteries. A good whodunnit with a big reveal at the end is the perfect read for me!

Who has been the greatest influence on your life?

I'd have to say my Dad. He has always been a role model for me as a parent, and as a doctor. Without his guidance I wouldn't be where I am today!

How have you been occupying your time over lockdown?

When I was younger I used to love watching Blue Peter, especially the 'here's one I made earlier' craft section. I've been trying to recreate this with my daughter over lockdown and doing some fun projects. It's amazing what you can make with a pipe cleaner, a yoghurt pot and some feathers...

If you could go back in time, where and when would you go?

I'd love to go back to around 51BC Ancient Egypt when Cleopatra was on the throne. Ancient Egyptian history is fascinating, I'd love to go back and see what it was like!

How do you make the perfect cup of tea?

Milk first... controversial I know!

And your go-to karaoke song?

'Take a Chance on Me' by ABBA, or 'Jolene' by Dolly Parton

Jane Hindle, Education Manager

When did you join the Company?

I started at Merchant Taylors' in January 2019.

What have you enjoyed from your time at the Company?

First, managing to visit all the Company’s associated schools in my first 12 months. From the perspective of the locked-down year that followed, where no visits have been possible, it feels really fortunate and has helped keep the relationships strong. Second, meeting the most wonderful group of colleagues imaginable and being at the receiving end of so much kindness from Company members. Third, Doctors’ Dinners and the excuse to buy a dress. Finally, the Lobster Lunch. What an omelette…

Tell us about a passion of yours

Aside from an inherited family obsession with anything Alpine – dirndl skirts, campervan ski trips and fondues were big in my childhood – it's piano playing. Anything from Bach's preludes and fugues (I'm happy if I can play one bar well) to Burt Bacharach singalongs, with some Bill Evans along the way. I have played since I was six, which means first that I should be a whole lot better than I am, and second, that it's a kind of refuge for me – much needed this past year.

How have you been occupying your time over lockdown?

Like many others, with far too much baking! I like my cakes dry and textured, so have been trying to perfect a quite austere hazelnut cake and a type of deep-crust polenta biscuit. I doubt the chefs at the Hall will come knocking any time soon...

I've also been re-reading some of my favourites, like Elizabeth Jane Howard and Marilynne Robinson.

If you could go back in time, where and when would you go?

The Nina Simone concert at the Town Hall in New York, September 1959 (luckily recorded). Great piano playing, sublime singing and probably full of very cool people. Her version of 'Wild is the Wind' is at the top of my Desert Island Discs list.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

'Native New Yorker' (performed properly by Odyssey in 1977). It's played at home whenever we're getting ready to go out or away – so something else that's been sorely missed recently.

And how do you make the perfect cup of tea?

I don't; it's always and only coffee for me. From beans, and preferably with some dry cake.

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