In its 16th year, American Banker will be hosting their annual “Most Powerful Women in Banking” awards dinner. Protiviti is proud to be the exclusive Diamond Level sponsor for this prestigious event. In anticipation, we are excited to spotlight inspiring women who work within the financial services industry (FSI) here at Protiviti. While these women do all have their industry expertise in common, their stories are all unique and each offers wonderful perspective. We hope you enjoy our #ProtivitiWomenInFSI series!
“There’s a lot of pressure to ‘know what you want to be’,” notes Rebecca in regards to career advice, “but the likelihood is that you will move between a number of different areas and industries in your career, learning different things and figuring out what interests you and what you enjoy the most along the way. ” Rebecca, a Senior Manager in Risk & Compliance in our Sydney, Australia office, knows a thing or two about change. Originally from the U.K., she made the move to Australia in 2016 with another large consulting firm. In 2017, Rebecca joined Protiviti! We had a chance to catch up with her and hear all things career — challenges, successes and mentors.
How have strong leaders impacted your career thus far?
“When I think back on my career so far, there are two leaders who really stand out to me; one from my time starting out in Financial Services Audit as a graduate and one from my previous team in the U.K. before I left for Australia. The first of these leaders was widely known and respected for his incredible technical knowledge and the ability to digest large amounts of information in a short space of time, providing challenging constructive comments. He was very well respected by clients for this and in addition took a personal interest in the development of the team working for him. Whenever I think of my level of knowledge and experience, I am always reminded of this leader and think, if I have half as much understanding as him in 20 years’ time, I will be doing incredibly well! The second of these leaders led the whole team/division along with multiple engagements. He trusted those leading the engagements to deliver and came in for support when needed. He always had time for people within his team and was incredibly supportive of me personally in my career decisions to leave London and eventually the firm. I always wonder how these leaders manage their time to be able to fit everything in; running a department, multiple engagements and personal engagement with individuals?!”
What does being a leader mean to you?
“I think the key thing for me is if I have a team working for me, I want to set a good example to them, support them in their roles, help them to learn, develop their skills and hopefully enhance their careers in some way, shape or form.”
If you could give any career advice to those that are your junior, what would that advice be?
“My career advice to those just starting out in their careers would be that you don’t have to have all the answers to this figured out straight away – there are an infinite number of jobs out there. Chances are you’re not going to magically end up in your ‘dream job’ on your first pick! Learn what you can in each role, figure out what interests you and importantly, keep those connections you make along the way.”
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in FSI?
“I think the biggest challenge I have faced in my FSI career so far is in making the move from London to Sydney. I always knew I wanted to gain experience working in another country but it is difficult to fully understand the challenges that will involve until you make the jump outside of your comfort zone.
I had never been to Australia before I moved here and didn’t know anyone (other than knowing of others in my organization who had made the London to Sydney move previously). I was fortunate enough to find myself in a lovely team which included a number of people on secondment (or expats), who understood the position I was in. Even with their help, there was still a big career challenge in not knowing the local environment, the clients or the working style/operating model of my new team. I moved into a very regulatory driven role, which was different from my prior roles, which required me to learn about different regulations and regulatory approaches. My clients changed from the major international banks to the local retail banks and with that change bought a different set of client problems to work on.
I could probably go on forever about all the differences and challenges involved, however, while the challenges exist, the benefits far outweigh these challenges. You learn so much and so quickly in moving to work in another country, both professionally and personally. To anyone out there who may be thinking about it – just do it! And pretty sure we have some vacancies in Australia….!” [side note: we sure do!]
“That’s the thing about good mentors; they listen, advise and support you even if it means supporting you out of the organization they are in to the next step in your career path.”
What are some of the successes you’ve had in FSI?
“When I think in terms of projects and engagements, some of our biggest team achievements are those when we have had to overcome challenges. I recall a certain engagement where we had some very demanding stakeholders and one in particular. They always seemed to want more information and detail, pushing us to meet more people and gather more data points. The challenges were around managing expectations; ensuring you satisfy your client and meet their requirements versus the need to manage scope creep and the all important budget. You have to maintain your professionalism and know when to push back and stand your ground. While the engagement seemed like a big challenge at the time, at the end of the engagement our most challenging stakeholder was our biggest advocate (and pushed for us to get more follow on work). You always have to be thinking bigger picture.”
Let’s talk mentorship. Do you have any mentors that stand out? How have they helped you in your career?
“In my previous role in the U.K. I would say I had one key mentor. Although not a ‘formal’ mentor, the guidance from this person was invaluable during my time in the role. At the time, it was probably not recognized or appreciated as much as it should have been! The first thing they did was take a chance on a new person. I worked with them closely over the next couple of years and they provided me with exposure to very senior stakeholders on the client, locally and globally. At the start, I definitely didn’t feel like I was ready to be presenting to such a group and certainly didn’t have the confidence in my abilities to do so, but my mentor seemed to. They pushed me to present, a little at first and then more and more, and to more senior groups. I remember presenting to a boardroom of Managing Directors at a large investment bank when they were in town, as an Assistant Manager. I was petrified but I knew my mentor was there to step in if needed and it was such a buzz (when it was over!) This mentor continued to support me through my promotion to manager. Some time after that, they even supported me in my decision to leave and move overseas. That’s the thing about good mentors; they listen, advise and support you even if it means supporting you out of the organization they are in to the next step in your career path.”
If you could have any job in the world, what job would you have?: “I love the idea of being an incredibly skilled surgeon but in reality would get too grossed out after the first cut. Or, perhaps an amazing lawyer in court but as argumentative as I am, I would never get through reading pages and pages of legal briefs. Perhaps an astronaut, if it wasn’t for the fact I get terribly travel sick (overshare?). In reality, as uncool as it may be, I would probably be an academic – spend my days studying and learning more and more. Can never have too much knowledge!”
If you’re stuck on an island where you can only have one food for the rest of your life, what are you having?: “By far the hardest question of the lot! I love food now, but as a child I was an incredibly picky eater and pretty much lived on cheese sandwiches. Although, to be fair to my younger self not many things in life are better than cheese and carbs?!”
Book and/or Podcast Suggestion?: “I am currently reading (well listening to) “The End of Alchemy – Money, Banking and Future of the Global Economy” by Mervyn King (former governor of the Bank of England). I am only a couple of chapters in at the moment so will reserve my judgement on it for now. However, I would recommend ‘Audible’ to everyone – nice little app which lets you download and listen to books from your phone. I was introduced to the app fairly recently but it’s a great way to digest books on the go, in particular on my commute to and from work (and probably more productive than just lazily flicking through my various social media accounts!).”
On behalf of Protiviti, we’re proud of all that Rebecca has accomplished and we know she has many successes to come. Thank you for being a strong female leader in management and for inspiring us each day!