What influenced your decision to get into Banking and Finance?
It is not so much what for me, but rather whom. The person was my grandmother who passed away just over a month ago, a month short of her 98th birthday. She was the branch manager of a sizeable regional financial institution - a bank. It was in those the days when the role of a woman was confined to the household and the only prospect of employment was secretarial in nature. She was not the beneficiary of any diversity initiative. She was the product of a culmination of hard work, dedication and commitment.
What’s the greatest challenges in the day-to-day activities of your profession?
To be heard.
What personal attributes enable you to deal with such challenges?
By being myself. By staying to true to my values. By staying true to myself. The acceptance in the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
What have been your career “turning points”?
The opportunity to head Barclays’ operation in Gibraltar. It was a multifaceted challenge in that I did not only leave the legal division for the front office business, I left one country for another, moving halfway across the world, from one hemisphere to another. Another, is my most recent opportunity being responsible for the overseas services for Europe.
How has failure played a role in your career?
The acceptance that you can only be the best that you can be, but that others’ perception, no matter how inaccurate, can unjustly impact you. Unfair though it might be. Rather than to ponder and mull on what could have been, you simply have to dust yourself off and get back up again. There is no value in trying to rationalise failure. Ellen DeGeneres rightly said “It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”
Do you think quotas are the way to go for women on Boards?
A quota is an indicative of the failure of a company’s value system, in this instance its commitment to diversity, and gender neutrality. It implies that rather than to foster diversity on all levels of the company, particularly harnessing at the grassroot level of the company, it is enforced as an end measure. This question whether it is a quota or a token? In my view, the imposition of quotas is not a measure of affirmation, it simply distracts from the achievements of the individual. Rather than to celebrate, such success is undermined, brought into question as to the merits of its attainment by not being an acknowledgment of the true achievement, that it is.
How can we engage men in gender diversity initiatives?
If we still have to engage men in gender diversity initiatives, then we have a serious problem. As I understand our company’s social outreach initiatives, don’t we reach out to those that require our assistance, rather than they reaching out to us. Their plight is known to us, appreciated and understood by us. We are truly cognisant of the challenges that they face. As gender diversity is entrenched in the value system of our company it should be part of Barclays’ DNA - it is not a nice to have. Our engagement should be to affirm a culture, not to talk about such affirmation. As Shakespeare’s Richard III concludes “Talkers are no good doers: be assured”.
How have women helped you in your career?
In my career, I have been fortunate enough to have benefitted from people of differing race, colour, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender orientation, age or disability. In embarking on my career, it was never my anticipation nor expectation to derive, or expect to derive, gain and promotion merely through gender preference, for this would be indicative of favour or exclusion.
What life advice would you give your younger self?
You should not be defined by the perceptions that others hold of you. All perceptions are from their perspective of subjectivity not objectivity.