Profile – Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Virgin Direct Personal Finance

Virgin is putting its money on Jayne-Anne Gadhia, new managing director of Virgin Direct Personal Finance. Formerly operations director, Gadhia will now assume responsibility for the banking arm of Virgin Direct and the Virgin One account.

Birmingham-born accountant Gadhia trained with Ernst & Young prior to joining Norwich Union in 1987, a company which at that time had no women senior managers. Determined to buck this trend, Gadhia became business and finance manager in 1991, then finance and planning business manager.

In March 1994, regulators curbed Norwich Union’s activities, and Gadhia was given the task of righting the situation. She explains: ‘This was the foundation for me. I took a different approach and it worked.’

Now an established troubleshooter, Gadhia joined Virgin Direct as a founder member in 1994. ‘The whole Virgin brand appealed to me,’ she said. ‘The opportunity to set up something absolutely brand new was irresistible.

It was a big risk to pack everything in, but the personal involvement was a real motivator.’ Working alongside Richard Branson, who remains in weekly contact, Gadhia was free to recruit her own team to build the business. ‘The choice was instinctive. We went for passionate people, challengers and “troublemakers” I suppose.’

The Gadhia and Virgin philosophy is ‘do the right thing’ by customers, staff and shareholders. Using this, she aims ‘to make the big four banks into the little four.’

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