Interview with Fayola-Maria(@fayola_maria)
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I became an award-winning Head of Legal, Europe for a $25bn American multinational at 26. I transitioned to Head of Legal for a Fortune 500 business at 28, and went on to support Governments and Fortune businesses with novel, complex and critical transactions and projects.
I’ve always followed my passion, what I’m both good at and enjoy. I have a gift for drafting and digesting large complex contracts, I’m a natural fixer and can find creative solutions to just about any challenge, and I’m a very calm person; especially in high-pressure difficult situations.
My path led me to a career as a strategist, dealing with commercial disputes, conflict and crisis. I’ve won many awards, internationally, in recognition of the work I do and I’m so grateful for that. I’ve been featured in national newspapers, like the Sunday Times, as one of the top 5 women in U.K. business. I’ve also had the opportunity to represent the United Nations as a UN Women delegate and undertake important work for the Commonwealth as a fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
When I look back, it’s been a fantastic journey so far.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this?
I built and led the Disputes Practice for the U.K. Government, picking through and resolving the most complex commercial disputes across central government. I spent almost 4 years as an advisor to Whitehall, leading complex activity across central government and providing commercial counsel to ministers, permanent secretaries and commercial directorates. I worked for the UK Cabinet Office, which supports the Prime Minister and ensures the effective running of government. It is the corporate headquarters for government, in partnership with HM Treasury, and takes the lead in certain critical policy areas.
I did some really diverse work there, including projects for Brexit and the Royal Air Force. The interesting story, I read an article online that talked about my work and then dubbed me as the British Olivia Pope! It made me smile. Recognizing Olivia Pope is a fictional character from the hit US series Scandal, she was nevertheless quite a powerhouse! She got things done! Handled!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?
I have just one tip. Make sure you’re passionate about what you do. Make sure you love your work, if you want to thrive.
The work I do has required long hours and at times I work under immense pressure. If you want to wake up feeling good, focused and ready to face the next day of challenges you absolutely need to love what you do.
None of us can succeed without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My late father was the person I will forever be grateful for. He nurtured me into the woman I am today. He was a fantastic father. He was present, he was witty, he was smart, and he made sure I knew I was loved and could do anything when I grew up.
My childhood was full of great experiences. Family holidays, from tennis lessons to skiing lessons, and a whole range of instruments. My father made sure I got to experience everything. And he believed in me. He was my biggest supporter – followed closely by my brother!
I became one of the youngest magistrates in the U.K. for the London West Judiciary. I was in my 20’s. I remember my father was so proud, it was like he had expected me to achieve these things in life. As long as I continue to do things that make a difference, I know I will continue to make him proud.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I set up a disputes platform for everyday people in 2017. I recognize that every day people navigate so many challenges in life, disputes with companies, disputes relating to education and healthcare, and sometimes this can really impact mental health. So I set out to do all I could to support as many people as possible.
The platform was called Problem Percy. I funded it all myself, so true philanthropy towards a cause. I took on some high profile cases in the media, like that of precious little Alfie Evans. The challenge I had was the sheer volume of need. I would receive over 1000 new requests a day and it continued to grow month on month. Alongside my job, even with help, it became unsustainable. But I am very cognisant that there are many people out there who need the service. I will find funding to relaunch it soon. Watch this space!
Do you have a favourite “written Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Rome was not built in a day.’ Hands down my favourite quote for life! I have so much I want to achieve and do, but life is a marathon and not a sprint.
Celebrities in entertainment can give the perception that success comes quickly. It doesn’t, not always. Sometimes you have to put the work in and be patient.
All the awards I have amassed, all the recognition, they came through hard work and time focused on my craft. Rome could not be built in a day, because it is beautiful, enduring, vast. Things of significance take time.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me professionally on Linkedin ‘Fayola-Maria Jack’, or on Instagram @fayola_maria or Twitter which is also @fayola_maria
Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article?
I do a number of talks, internationally, on various topics. I’m in over in the US in September. If you want to see me speak, follow me on Linkedin for updates on where I’ll be next.