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Leaders with Ambition - Tammy Bessinger

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Tammy Bessinger - FS UK Markets Finance Lead.

Professional success stories often focus on skill, confidence and good luck. But in this episode of Leaders With Ambition we are hearing from a corporate warrior whose superpower was in many ways born of vulnerability. Tammy Bessinger, FS UK Markets Finance Lead with a Big 4, has built an enormously successful consulting career in part due to key skills learned as the result of medical and emotional challenges; skills like resiliency, empathy and authenticity.

As she shares with Host, Nicky Acuna Ocana, Tammy did not come to her corporate success and trusted advisory position without first navigating trauma – and acquiring insights that have made her not only a richer resource for senior leaders but also a more intuitive and compassionate leader of teams.

You’ll learn about the tools Tammy, a native of South Africa, has learned and why she believes we should embrace – rather than marginalize – the fact that we are all human and subject to hardship. It’s okay not to be okay! Tammy’s insights about taking a pause to reflect and paying it forward for others going through … life … provide a thought-provoking perspective.

Find out why it’s possible to balance just getting on with it (as Tammy has done) with self-awareness (which has given her the ability to relate both to the busy leaders with whom she consults and the colleagues who help her deliver successful solutions). Tammy’s story of trial and triumphs is your invitation to examine vulnerability – and its gifts – from a new perspective.

If you enjoyed this discussion, please click here to find previous episodes of Leaders with Ambition.

Key Takeaways

Starting Out

Tammy discusses growing up in South Africa with hard-working parents who modelled an “I can do anything if I work hard enough” ethos, which ultimately propelled Tammy towards a university degree despite financial constraints. She talks about the chronic Pain and how she managed – and lessons learned from – both an injury and a struggle with Fibromyalgia through her 20s and into her 30s. Tammy keeps one foot in front of the other, this is what it takes for her to navigate out of physical challenges and associated professional limits into a marriage and new life in the UK.

Easing Back, tapping a deep well of resilience while working through heavy dependence on pain medication and a bout with breast cancer. She discusses how firms that demonstrate support receive in kind both loyalty and goodwill long-term from employees.

Tammy talks about where the notion of becoming a consultant emerged for her and how she embraced an opportunity to set, refine and redesign policies and processes. She also goes through the insights derived through working with senior stakeholders, learning about their thought processes, priorities and needs!

Tips for Working with Senior Leadership

  • Remember they are humans!

  • Don’t try to sell them anything.

  • Treat them as you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed.

  • Always make sure your facts are straight.

  • Make sure your communication mirrors their personal style and approach.

  • Build authentic relationships based on well-rounded, honest information.

  • Make sure to give credit to the team behind you!

The Magic of Team-Building

Tammy believes it’s key to ensure that – on the whole – every individual’s skills are well matched with their tasks, collaborators and aspirations. It’s okay not to be okay, Tammy reflects in her managerial style a humanity borne of personal challenges that were “overwhelming” and grief that was in fact a gift.

Tammy opens up about her journey out of loss, how she employed therapy, travel and self-reflection not only to centre herself in honesty but to bring empathy to others. She closes the episode on why it’s important to bring a level of integrity and self-care into workplace relationships.

Tammy’s Career Challenges

  • Adapting to the nuances and differences between South Africa to the UK.

  • Keeping up with constant marketplace evolution and its impacts.

  • Finding ways to engage with and operationalise what stakeholders need.

  • Identifying needs and communicating solutions.

Tammy’s Career Highlights

  • Any time her team is doing well – and feeling happy!

  • Training and devising ways to share messaging.

  • Constantly evolving the workflow.

  • Building team cohesiveness and a sense of collective joy.

Words of Wisdom

  • 'Pay it forward – as a reflection of the support you’ve received.'

  • 'Take the time to share your wisdom with others.'

  • 'Never stop putting one foot in front of the other.'

  • 'It’s a team that makes things work. Not just one person! '

Key Quotes

  • “I had to revisit what was in the art of the possible. And it’s incredibly difficult to rewrite your life history, what you thought your life was going to look like.”

  • “It’s just about keeping going and an inherent belief that no one else is going to come and fix your story for you.”

  • “It’s so important to work for a firm that’s going to support and wants to help… solve complex problems.” (Nicky)

  • “Consultants understand the value of their time and how they want to spend it.”

  • “Part of my role is, yes, I can tell you the good news … (but) here is the other side of the good news or why this isn’t really working.”

  • “We can only do so much with data and spreadsheets. To me, it’s people that create insights and understand behaviours.”

  • “For me, what’s really important is understanding individuals on my teams and their personalities.”

  • “People do have personal lives … and you make a safe space for people to be able to share that and also to use work almost as an escape.” (Nicky)

  • “(Grief) is incredibly personal. Everyone reacts differently.”

  • “As someone who manages or interacts with people regularly, especially in a high-stress environment… I need to make sure that I’m looking after myself. And that’s no one else’s responsibility.”

  • “Most teams and most people in the business want to do the right thing. They just need to understand why and how.”

  • “I have incredibly high standards for myself that I don’t expect of other people.”

  • “You can define (your career). It doesn’t have to be how you grew up, who died, who didn’t die, what your health is. You can create a space where it is about your career. And that’s something that anyone can do with hard work.”

About Tammy

Tammy Bessinger is a financial management professional with 13 years of total experience, encompassing both consulting and senior management positions, demonstrating a strong record of accomplishment and strategic thinking.

Adept at leading high-performing teams to drive growth and success across diverse geographies. Excelling at developing and implementing innovative financial strategies that align with organisational goals and drive results.

Tammy ossesses a deep understanding of market trends and regulatory requirements, with a proven track record of delivering exceptional client service and building long-term relationships. Thrive in dynamic and fluid environments and enjoys working in consulting roles that allow for strategic thinking and creative problem-solving. A skilled communicator and mentor, dedicated to fostering collaboration and talent development.

About Nicky

Nicky has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Managing Director of Ambition UK, she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.

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