Today we are talking to Anna Saprykina, founder and director of Body Silk – a Central London clinic that specialises in aesthetic treatments.
You worked in banking for a while before you set up your own company. What did you enjoy the most and the least about it?
I worked in commercial banking (trade finance secured corporate lending). What did I enjoy the most? Probably the pace, the dynamic. I’ve learnt a lot of useful skills from my banking experience and met a bunch of nice, very smart people. The money was good. It felt safe. The least enjoyable thing (as is probably the case for most entrepreneurs out there) – the hierarchy while you are employed – you cannot make decisions on your own and have to seek approval on most occasions.
As a woman in banking, did you feel you needed to work harder at standing out? Did you witness discrimination during your career in banking?
Discrimination sounds probably too strong, so no, I can’t say that I witnessed discrimination towards myself, but in banking you have to work hard to get noticed or to move to a better position. I worked hard and it paid off. Of course, most of my colleagues were men, at the end of the day most of banking is mens’ world, but I was hired for the job ahead of other candidates (many of them were men), I did my job well and was rewarded accordingly.
What would you advise to all those seeking a career in banking today?
If you want to get into banking, you have to focus on getting the job. Apply to as many relevant jobs as possible and get seen for interviews. Even if you are not going to get hired, it is still a good experience – at every other interview you will feel more confident and will know what they are looking for and what they want to hear from the candidates.
Do your homework before the interview. Know information about the company. Be prepared for tricky questions (something like ‘what are your weaknesses?’).
Keep up-to-date about the financial news and read views and opinions about the financial markets and the economy (FT and The Economist should be your regular reading sources). Write a follow-up email to your interviewer afterwards and list a couple of specific points about what information you found useful during the interview. Don’t forget to mention what you could offer as a candidate to the role and how in your view the role/company could benefit from hiring you.
What inspired you to set up your own company Body Silk? How was the transition from working for an employer to managing your own business?
I have always wanted to have my own business at some point, but never thought that it would happen at this stage of my life. I wouldn’t say that it was an inspiration. It was rather a result of desperation after I was made redundant from my nice banking job during the credit crunch. I happened to have a gap year between being employed and starting Body Silk doing my homework towards the launch. I knew that it was going to be difficult but I did not know that it would be so much difficult. It is a 24/7 non-stop thing.
What would be your main piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Make sure that you become an IT guru before you launch and invest in a good lawyer while signing your lease and partnership agreements!