Skip to content
It looks like you're using an unsupported browser, which may impact upon your experience. It is strongly recommended that you switch to the latest version of Chrome, Firefrox, Safari, Edge or another modern browser.

Trailblazer Abisola Barber

news published date 7 February 2024
  • Communities
  • Our Stories
In the first in our FLSB series of trailblazers, we hear from Abisola Barber. Abisola gives us her Top 5 tips and tricks to goal setting.

The WIBF Future Leaders Shadow Board’s inaugural trailblazer, Abisola Barber is the recipient of  the WIBF Rising Star Award in 2018, has remained a close friend, member and volunteer with WIBF: delivering PEP sessions to WIBF members and supporting the WIBF Alumni and Senior Leaders Communities in their engagement activities.

Abisola Barber, CCMI CMgr, is a Director at Citi based in London. Leveraging her background as a former Business Manager/Chief Operating Officer within Global Markets, Abisola is a strategic troubleshooter: driving transformational change programmes, global consistency in thematic risk oversight, leading on product compliance risk management and enhancing cross-departmental collaboration & operational effectiveness – all whilst championing strong conduct, culture, and colleague development goals.

Prior to joining Citi, Abisola spent close to 10 years at Barclays in various roles across the Corporate and Investment Bank. During her tenure in Barclays’ Non -Core unit, Abisola led high-profile divestment projects across Rates, Commodities, Consumer Cards and Corporate Loans, contributing to the successful c.£95bn RWA reduction.

A multi-award winning Professional recognised by the likes of the Financial Times (2017), Women in Banking & Finance (2018), The Black British Business Awards (2019), Yahoo Finance (2019, 2020) and The Baton Awards (2021) for her trailblazing career and pioneering work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion both inside the workplace and in society, Abisola is also a Non-Executive Director in Higher Education – serving as an Independent Board Member for the University of York’s governing council, and Advisory Board Member for the School for Business and Society at the University of York. Her passion to make a positive contribution to society has led to her global recognition.

Abisola holds a BA (Hons) Philosophy, Politics & Economics from University of York (2013); and MSc International Public Policy from University College London (2014).

Abisola receiving her Rising Star award in 2018.

Here, Abisola shares her perspectives on how to set yourself up for success in the new year, with 5 Top Takeaways to prepare you for Goal Setting.

With the dawn of another year, it’s time to dust off that notebook and set your resolutions and goals for the months ahead. There always seems to be mounting pressure as we transition out of one year and into another, to shed our skins and give birth to version 2.0: the new & improved update that has been programmed to (miraculously) get a new job, get a promotion, get a puppy, lose 5kgs, buy a house and get married – all in the space of 12 months!

Instead of the edging for the grandiose and all that comes with it, I have learnt to approach each new year with a sense of calmness, clarity of mind, and a true purpose. I hope my top 5 tips and tricks to goal Ssetting help you, as much as they have helped me over the years.

1.     Look back to look forward: start from a place of reflection and gratitude. Before I write future goals down, I must begin with a sense of appreciation. It’s all too easy to forget the growth we’ve been on over the last 12 months, so take stock of the situations you’ve grown in, learnt from, benefitted from. What were your key wins? What took you by surprise that you weren’t quite prepared for? What didn’t go to plan, but you could have turned around had you been prepared? Begin by reflecting and learning: that will fuel your ability to engage in goal setting on the right footing.

2.     Your life is an investment portfolio: diversify your assets. When it comes to goal setting, I like to break down the areas in which I am setting my goals across the facets of my life. Areas such as work, volunteering, health, relationships, faith & spirituality: I survey the land and establish the broad buckets where I want to develop and assign goals accordingly. Each aspect (or asset) of your life impacts the other and can be a strong determinant of how much progress can be made. This truly is the core messaging behind striving for “work / life balance”.

3.     Whatever the goal, be SMART about it! Hopefully we’ve all heard about SMART goal setting, but how many of us truly put it into practice? Any item on your list must be Specific, Measured, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. If you can’t measure it, you can’t monitor it – and you can’t change it!

4.     Get 1% better every day. Often, big bang wholesale changes are incredibly difficult to maintain or sustain in the long term. Ever noticed how the gyms are suddenly heaving with visitors in the first two weeks of any new year – but monitor the attendance over the 12 months and you’ll notice a significant drop off as early as February! Motivation can only get you so far; discipline needs to take over and deliver those results. It’s the small, incremental changes that truly transform your life and make the difference: where you steadily work at improving just a little bit every day. Create habits that will last and that you will see through; I love how James Clear describes the habit loop and creating a good habit in his renowned book ‘Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results’.

5.     Be kind to yourself. Oh, how I wish my younger self knew this and put it into practice! There’s a fine line between discipline and focus, and obsession. I’ve found in the past, where I get pre-occupied with a specific goal – to achieve X goal before Y date – I expend far too much energy on “checking” whether I’ve reached the goal (or worrying too much that I’m so far off from reaching the goal) that I fail to spend enough time actually doing the work needed to achieve the goal. By setting myself frequent check in points to monitor and measure my progress, giving myself grace and kindness to get on with the work, I am far more likely to succeed at completing the task and releases my mind from incessant worrying!