I Was One of Margarate Thatcher’s Bankers – Thank You for The Memories.

Watching the film “Iron Lady” brought tears to my eyes for many reasons. The main reason being that I was once one of the new breed of bankers who gained from Margaret Thatcher’s stern economic policies. Today, after Margaret Thatcher passed away, I thought I’d write about how this iron-willed woman touched my life and may, unknowingly, set the course for the rest of it.

Graduating from Oxford University in the mid 1980s resulted in a job working in London for a large American investment bank. (How and why this happened is an entirely different post I hope to write someday soon.)

In the 1980s, the financial industry in London was growing by leaps and bounds under Margaret Thatcher, and I was a direct result of this Prime Minister’s vision to transform the United Kingdom into an important financial center for the world.

Jobs opened up for young British people, with earning potential unheard of up until then. Wealth and status in that country had been linked to lineage for many years, and the chance to break into these closed economic sectors was very difficult for the un-connected. Along came the Iron Lady. She burst open the doors to sectors of the economy that had been shutting out a large portion of the British work force.

Stepping off the Tube in my heels, white tights and navy blue, pinstriped skirt suit at #1 Broadgate in the city of London was like walking into the World Financial Center in New York City, an area I also frequently visited as part of the international world of finance I was working in. Champaign bars (not wine bars or pubs, though those came later) surrounded the central plaza at this new office site, perhaps in an attempt to permanently rejoice in the optimism of the time.

One celebratory moment I won’t soon forget, was when the central gathering area of this office complex was converted into an ice rink for the winter.

The ice rink at Broadgate was inaugurated with a whimsical skating exhibition by the famed British Olympic skaters Torvill and Dean. I recall having to watch this incredible show from the 4th floor, looking down from the floor-to-ceiling windows behind my carved mahogany desk. I couldn’t leave my desk since this event took place in the middle of the trading day.

Like me, many 20 something’s in the UK were flourishing. They were able to purchase property in the most expensive city of their country. They were driving flashy cars and wearing custom suits handmade anywhere from Germyn Street, to Italy, to Honk Kong.

The feeling that wealth was trickling down was euphoric among the English Yuppies (remember those: Young, Urban, Professionals?). Margaret Thatcher transformed the way we perceived the British aristocratic cast system. Sure, many members-only clubs existed then and still do today. But I saw and lived among those who trudged the underground to reach the city center to work in what became the financial capital of Europe.

Living in the United Kingdom in the 1980’s, and experiencing the new London grow into a sophisticated city offering this country’s young professionals the dream to live well by working hard, was an incomparable experience to witness.

Margaret Thatcher was also an inspiration to many women around the world who, like me, were just beginning to reach for the glass ceiling. The notion that highly educated women could work in key positions in America was not knew, but in the United Kingdom there were a different set of obstacles women had to overcome to become successful — especially in the world of international finance which had been previously dominated by the good old boys in the UK.

With Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister, as our inspiration many of us dove into what seemed a gladiator’s arena to try to conquer and change a mentality that had been very slow to adapt. Margaret Thatcher seemingly steamrolled our path to be able to achieve and be successful — and to do it without fear or cowering to the suave, pinstriped mentality of the time.

Thank you, Margaret Thatcher, for offering the British youth, and me, a chance to make our dreams accessible through education, opportunity, and hard work.

I was one of your bankers, an expatriate, but I will never forget to think of you each time a pinstriped suit walks by me.


  1. Mama Mary says:

    I love this post, Suzette. I learned so much about you by reading this. And yes, Margaret Thatcher was quite an inspiration and role model. RIP

    • Suzette Valle says:

      Hi, Mary! Glad you got something from reading this. My days as a banker in London were amazing! Thanks for stopping by this old blog.

  2. Erin says:

    Love this Suzette. That’s so neat! I learned a lot about you AND Margarate Thatcher from this post! 🙂

  3. London in the 1980’s sounds like an amazing place to be, and I would’ve loved to have seen Torville and Dean, even from the 4th’s floor.

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