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Q&A with Keily Blair

4 May 2017

Keily is a director and financial crime specialist in PwC's Regulatory and Commercial Disputes team.

Keily Blair

1. You're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?

I help my clients to do the right thing. I specialise in financial crime and I am the first port of call when my clients need to investigate an issue in their organisation, to respond to a request from a regulator or enforcement authority or to take proactive steps to ensure they are compliant with new law or regulation.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am generally advising clients on two issues, the first is the Corporate Criminal Offence of Failure to Prevent the Facilitation of Tax Evasion which is contained in the draft Criminal Finances Bill and the second is the impact of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive.

What was your first job?

I grew up in Dublin, Ireland. My first job was as a glass collector in our local pub which showed a lot of live rugby. It was great fun and required a good sense of humour and the ability to control a crowd. It also taught me a lot about the importance of high standards and looking after your clients, whether they are buying a pint or legal services.

Career highlight?

I have been very fortunate, there have been a few. If I had to choose, I would say representing clients in connection with the LIBOR investigation as it has had so many elements of civil, criminal and regulatory law with a healthy dose of political interest.

Share some great advice you've been given.

Always put yourself in your client’s shoes. It can be easy for lawyers to get wrapped up in niceties of legal arguments but this doesn’t always serve the best interests of our clients.

What's in your desk drawers?

We have a clean desk policy at PwC - which has been hard to adjust to! So absolutely everything is in my drawers, from the files that I am working on to my bottle of Tabasco sauce.

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

There is a fantastic coffee spot during the day, cocktail bar at night called Villiers by PwC’s Embankment Place office (which is surprisingly on Villiers Street). They do a great Black Americano and a well-made Old Fashioned. It is essentially my idea of heaven.

How do you relax?

I have two little girls who are under 4 years old and you can’t beat dancing around the living room listening to Disney music with the lights off to blow off some steam.

What's your pet hate?

People who send emails when they could pick up the telephone instead. It takes less time and is so much more personal.

Sum up your current role in one word.

Exciting.

Favourite city?

My favourite city is probably Dublin at Christmas time. Even though I have not lived there for over 17 years, Christmas in Dublin is pretty special. I love the decorations and carol singers on Grafton Street and spending time with my extended family. No matter how long I live in London, a part of me will always consider Dublin to be home.

What book is on your bedside table?

I generally have two books on the go, one for escapism and one to learn something new or challenge my thinking. At the moment, I am reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

What needs to happen to get more women into leadership roles?

We need to start focusing on middle leadership. It is, of course, important to focus on women at the top of their professions but if you cannot encourage and empower women to stick with it during the tricky years of middle leadership then there simply won’t be enough women around to redress the balance at the top.