Global GM, Head of Insurance, Finance, Payments & Post Trade Sectors & Products at BT
Tell us about your career journey? Was this the field you had intended to go into?
Finance has long been an attractive option for me due to my passion for mathematics. I originally had my eyes set on becoming an actuary, having studied actuarial science at university. However, after undertaking work experience in investment actuarial work, I became increasingly intrigued with the idea of becoming a trader.
As a result, I decided to start my career as a sales trader at Paribas, followed by ING Barings and then Macquarie. In 2006, I joined the Equities & Derivatives division of BNP Paribas with a specific remit to build and run the Global Execution Services (GES) product line within the UK and Europe. From 2009, I became an MD of sales at Instinet before joining BT’s Global Banking & Financial Markets division in 2011.
At BT, my role has developed over the years. Initially, I focussed on enabling fintechs to scale up and deploy their tools to the benefit of larger financial institutions. As these fintechs have matured, my focus has moved onto helping insurtechs develop similarly. I continue to love growing smaller firms by linking them with global ones.
How have things changed over the past ten years in terms of diversity and career progression and what does the industry need to focus on today?
Over the last ten years, I have seen equality and inclusivity improve significantly in finance. The number of women working on the trading floor alone, plus the number of female directors, has grown rapidly. The role of business in pushing for change has been crucial. For example, BT set a target to ensure the number of women it employs in senior management grows from 27% in 2017 to 40% by the end of 2020.
However, one particular area that needs to be addressed is the number of women in education participating in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. New technologies underpin every aspect of our economy, so it is critical that more women are encouraged to take STEM subjects at school and beyond. At BT, we hope to support educational change through initiatives such as ‘Step into STEM’ and ‘BT TechWomen’, which are designed to increase the number of women in tech. Going forward, more industry efforts will be needed to bolster the number of women in finance and to advance gender diversity.
What lessons have been learnt and how can managers drive change and retain people?
Encouraging debate is essential to promote change around issues of gender diversity. In addition, it is up to individual firms to take proactive steps to deliver change across organisations.
The best way to promote staff retention is, in short, training and more training. Within BT, this begins with training for graduates and new recruits at entry-level. However, it is crucial that training continues, with firms building a culture that fosters a thirst for knowledge. This can involve specialised training in technical matters, training for emerging leaders, or even training in soft-skills such as methods of influencing people. Overall, this approach will produce a more-skilled workforce that knows it is valued by its employer.