Read Mel Chell's journey from Cashier at Sainsburys to National Head of Asset Finance at Shoosmiths.
All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. At Shoosmiths we will be celebrating the day by sharing profiles of some of the many successful women across our business . . .
I wanted to be a lawyer from the age of 11. It all started with LA law (for those youngsters this was an 80's legal TV show) - and I thought it all seemed very glamorous and exciting! I have always been a diligent and focused person and so set out to get the best grades I could, research the best law schools and plan to start my career in a commercial law firm. I do not come from a privileged background, and as well as studying I worked in all sorts of part time roles. Cashier at Sainsburys, barmaid, shoe sales, a particular lowlight was stuffing meat in to pork pies in a factory for 12 hour days one summer (I really can't even look at a pork pie now!). All of these roles taught me about work ethic and gave me a determination to succeed in a fulfilling legal career.
I completed a summer work placement at Shoosmiths and, in comparison to other London firms, I felt like I had come home. I was comfortable, I had fun and I was certain I had found a firm that I was culturally aligned with. I was delighted when I was offered a training contract with Shoosmiths as it was my first choice. From my first day at Shoosmiths I was able to be my true authentic self. There are no egos at Shoosmiths. I had great fun as a trainee, I was sent to Court to do hearings (week one!) and had lots of client contact. I qualified into Banking Litigation in 2000 and started my specialism in Asset Finance recoveries.
I left Shoosmiths at 3 years PQE and spent 7 years in two other firms. In this time I had two children and learned the art of juggling work and home life as well as how to live with the guilt that being a full-time working Mum seems to bring. I also learned that the grass is definitely not always greener. I am now surer than ever that the culture of an organisation is a really important part of achieving a successful and fulfilling career. I returned to Shoosmiths in 2011 as a Partner and it felt as though I had never been away. I am now an Equity Partner running the national Asset Finance team. I literally love my job, my team and the firm.