Name: Penny Searles
Company: TML Financial Solutions, part of Kensington Group.
Job title: Chief operating officer.
Where do you live? Southampton.
Describe your current job:
I am responsible for the everyday running of the firm, which is one of the largest direct-to-consumer specialist mortgage providers in the UK. I also work with the rest of the board on how we can grow, looking at new revenue streams. For example, we have just launched an affinity division to offer banks, building societies and other organisations offering financial services a white label solution to sub-prime enquiries. You could liken my role to a housekeeper. I make sure our house runs smoothly with the right number of people in the right jobs doing the right things to keep the place in order.
What was your first job?
In the civil service back in 1986. I took the job straight from school and was a clerical assistant.
What was your last job?
Heading the mortgages division of Lambeth.
What have you done in between?
After the civil service I moved into the financial services industry which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I love the variety of the business and the challenges it brings. It means you can work for huge organisations as well as small societies. For example, I have worked for HSBC, Liverpool Victoria and Lambeth.
What has been the defining point of your career to date?
One was being selected for a management position in HSBC and the other was being promoted to chief operating officer within a year of joining the board at TML.
And the most embarrassing?
I spent an evening sitting between Rupert Lowe, former chairman of Southampton FC, and Channel 4’s cricket presenter Mark Nicholas who played for Hampshire and didn’t recognise either of them until halfway through the meal. This is not good for someone who is a big Saints fan and who grew up in Hampshire.
Do you have a mortgage?
Yes, with HSBC. My husband works for it so it’s loyalty all the way.
It’s a tie between The Seafood Restaurant owned by Rick and Jill Stein in Padstow and The Wolseley in London.What’s the most you’ve ever spent on dinner for two?
We’ve stayed at the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados and I spent 500 on a dinner for two but I have to say it was worth every penny. It was fantastic for people watching – how many famous people can you fit into one room? What’s your favourite band?
My taste covers a wide range, a bit like my job. I’ve got CDs from Johnny Cash to Goldfrapp and The Jam to Kanye West. There goes my street cred. What’s your favourite tipple?
Laurent Perrier pink champagne. Do you have any hobbies and interests?I love taking holidays in hot places where I can relax and read. I am close to my family so I enjoy catching up with my sisters and my favourite niece Matilda.