Amelia’s proactive approach has helped her earn the trust of senior KPMG stakeholders and as a result, she has continuously contributes to client meetings, RFP contributions and attending client events on behalf of KPMG. She believes strongly in a diverse workplace, volunteering as Head of Communication for KPMG’s African & Caribbean Network where she supports a network of over 400 members, organising events and initiatives to promote diversity. She seeks out opportunities to mentor more junior colleagues, as well as more senior members of staff on the importance of Fintech and innovation in financial services and its potential impact on their sector and clients.
She is a member of KPMG’s Women in FS committee where she has leveraged her marketing background and is part of the events team to help promote diversity and ensure a pipeline of female talent.
Amelia has now been nominated for the WIBF 2018 Rising Star Award. We caught up with her to find out more about her.
Tell us about your day to day role
I sit within Management Consulting Customer and Operations for Banking at KPMG. My day to day therefore involves working with our clients on a wide variety of projects, in particular, leveraging my digital and Fintech background but not limited to. For example, projects range from working with clients to develop Regulatory Business Plans for authorisation submission based on a post-Brexit scenario through to assessing how AI and robotics could be used to improve our clients’ lending processes. No two days are the same and I work with people from very different career and personal backgrounds who bring entirely different ideas to the table.
You moved from medical marketing to financial services, firstly what appealed to you about Financial Services and what were the greatest challenges in making that change?
Having studied Biology at The University of Warwick, I found myself wanting to incorporate my passion for the sciences with business management, sales and marketing. I joined an agency that did precisely this – designing and building websites and apps to facilitate medical sales for Pharmaceutical giants.
Following this, I chose to explore more digitally advanced sectors and moved to a digital experience agency where I managed priority clients- Google, Facebook and Instagram. I learnt an incredible amount and here I had my first taste of Financial Services, working on proposals/projects for two global banks. This made me think Financial Services is a sector with huge potential for digital advancement, so wouldn’t it be great to be part of that change?
I joined KPMG in May 2016 and have thoroughly enjoyed the transition. There are differences and similarities between many sectors in terms of client challenges and customer expectations; therefore the change hasn’t been too challenging, however it’s required an avid interest and willingness to learn the particularities of Financial Services. It’s important to acknowledge that you can’t be an expert in everything, so involve and learn from subject matter experts as required. I can definitely see how much I have developed since I first arrived in the Canary Wharf office!
Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?
There are many people who have influenced, inspired and taught me so much in my career. I am grateful for all my experiences and how I’ve grown - sounds clichéd but it’s true.
When working in medical marketing and strategy, I worked with a Director who was incredible at client management and sales. She managed their expectations, timelines and budget usage religiously and taught me how to have difficult conversations when the scope of a project changed.
When working in digital experience design, I worked with a Director who was fantastic at developing relationships – internally and with clients. I learnt the value of networking and how to do it well to help others and in turn receive help.
Above all, when I joined KPMG I asked a particular Partner in the firm to be a mentor for me. I had briefly worked on a project with him and realised we had similar interests in technology. Over the past two years he has helped me in so many ways - understanding my skillset, adapting it to suit Professional Services, navigating the firm, finding my niche and applying it to our clients, developing a voice in the market and finding the confidence to express my opinions.
How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces?
It’s important for everyone to acknowledge that we can all play a part in progressing towards a diverse and inclusive workplace – you don’t have to fit a criteria to champion change.
At KPMG, I am part of ‘Women in FS’ and on the committee for the African & Caribbean Network. I prefer working with people who are different to me as that is how I learn the most, get the best results and have the most interesting days. Does anyone really want to be constantly surrounded by people who had the same type of upbringing and education, in the same country, with the same cultural traditions and religious beliefs? That, for me, would be a very uninspiring environment to work in. If everyone chose one change to make that was personal to them, the pace of change would be dramatically accelerated.
Secondly, people should be comfortable talking about diversity. I watch it come up in conversation and people often steer away. I think it’s healthy to discuss, to ask questions and to have different opinions. The more this happens, the more exposure everyone will have to different perspectives and therefore a deeper understanding – hopefully consequently making a difference.
If you could have one wish for the Banking & Finance industry what would it be?
Oh I have so many! A major one for me would be the ability to increase focus on digital and innovation. So much time and money is spent keeping up with regulatory changes and requirements that banks struggle to really push digital and innovation as a strategic priority. Obviously these regulations are vital so I’m not saying we should have less or stop creating new, this is just a hypothetical wish…
Digital and innovation is definitely becoming increasingly at the forefront but mostly in niche applications and focus areas. There is SO much potential with existing, new and emerging technologies that I would love to see much more focus on combining these in the right ways to dramatically improve customer experiences and improve internal operations for cost reductions.
I am so excited by the prospect of an ‘Invisible Bank’ and the marketplace developments we are already starting to see - being able to manage all my financial service needs in one place, with a simple, single, customer interface. Leveraging Natural Language Processing to understand me conversationally, AI to predict my needs (accurately!), robotics and automation to speed up processes and approvals etc. The opportunities are there, it’s about being able to grasp them.
If you were stranded on an island, who would you chose to join you and why?
If I limit it to four people (and exclude my family and friends of course…), I would take with me:
1) Sir David Attenborough – Who’s better suited to teach you about the nature when stranded on an island? As a kid I would be given all David’s books and watch all his shows – as someone with a passion for Biology, this gentleman is a true role model. He also has my dream job but shh! don’t tell KPMG!
2) Nelson Mandela – This is someone who was very much a part of my childhood and upbringing and I’ve always longed to meet. In my adult life I have grown to appreciate him even more through his book ‘A long walk to freedom’. I have never been so moved by a book – I’m yet to reach the end but am getting there! It really opens your eyes to the Apartheid and how the legislation was only abolished in mid-1991…
3) Anne-Sophie Pic – She’s one of the best chef’s in the world and the first French female chef to receive 3 Michelin stars. A helpful addition to the group!
4) Bear Grylls – Obviously a necessity, otherwise I don’t think we would last very long!