Careers City Rising Star, Rebecca Constable is a Director at Societe Generale Private Banking Hambros (SGPB Hambros), the private banking arm of Societe Generale. Her career has spanned 27 years in the industry across several key players. She has worked in the City and is now based in the Thames Valley operating a regional office for SGPB Hambros.
Rebecca, tell me a bit about your background and your career path.
I joined Hambros just over five years ago having been working in the City for over 25 years. After university I joined an investment banking graduate programme and then went into fund management before making the move to private banking. After a sabbatical about 5 years ago, I decided to move from the City to a more regional role and am now with SG Hambros having helped to open our regional office in The Thames Valley.
I don’t think I’ve worked in an organisation where there has been such diversity, in terms of experience and skills. We all benefit from working with each other.
What made you want to join SGPB Hambros?
Having been working for a large retail bank but on the private banking side, I understood how the two could complement each other. When I was offered the opportunity to come to SGPB Hambros, I was able to combine working for a smaller, more niche bank, with working in an organisation that a wealth of resource and expertise. Hambros also has a really good name in the banking industry. From what I have seen there is mobility both within departments and locations and the opportunity to develop linguistic skills – which is great, I know I have to improve my French!
What do you enjoy most about working here?
I like the combination of looking after clients and ensuring that we actually do the right thing for them whilst also working closely with all my colleagues in the different areas. My role is about bringing in the right expertise from across the organisation to make sure that client requirements are met. I am also increasingly enjoying running the team, developing it and bringing in new talent.
Do you network internally or externally?
Because I work out of a regional office, it is very important that people know who I am, and that we as a team have a profile. Our colleagues are in London, Paris and the Channel Islands, as well as across continental Europe and other jurisdictions so we spend a lot of time on internal networking, getting to know all our colleagues.
Personally, I am also involved in several women’s networking groups. I was a founder member of The Adelaide Group (Berwin Leighton Paisner) who meet 6 times a year with guest speakers and host lunches for senior female leaders in the Business and the City. Through that network I have met some fascinating people. I am also a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and am a Fellow of the CISI (Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment). I try and attend some of the City based networking events. I am also involved in the charitable sector as a trustee of a charity that supports education. Amongst other things, all these networks are a great opportunity to meet interesting people and I think it makes me better at my job.
I believe you need to channel your energies into things that you really believe in. The really successful managers/leaders have true conviction and believe in what they do.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I am an early riser which is a legacy from my commuting days. Now that I work locally, I am able to get into the office fairly easily so I arrive into the office about 7.45 – 8am. I enjoy that first hour of the day before 9am. It allows me to focus my mind on the day ahead and prioritise. At the beginning of each week the team sit down together and talk about the week ahead.
Ideally I like to have client meetings in the diary – client meetings are a core activity. My day is spent in meetings or in dialogue on the telephone with clients / intermediaries and colleagues. I also spend time using social networking as part of new business development and to make contact with people I have met at events. I have client lunches and evening events most weeks. The day will finish somewhere between 6.30 and 9pm. One night a week I’ll just stay a bit later in the office to catch up on things. It is very varied – and that is one of the things I love about my job. I don’t have to do a huge amount of travelling because my clients are local or in London. I have three older children, and a husband who also has a high pressured job, so striking the balance is essential for me. We have had to reappraise the work life balance along the way, but we are fortunate that we work as a team.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership / management position?
Have a positive outlook and show cooperation. I believe you need to channel your energies into things that you really believe in. The really successful managers/leaders have true conviction and believe in what they do. If they are only a manager to go up the career ladder then they won’t succeed. If you believe in what you do then you act with integrity, and it is important also to have fun!.
To raise your profile, take that time to focus on areas that you believe in, spend a bit of time thinking about yourself as an individual and what you think you enjoy and are good at. If you can ensure that you have some real differentiators in that area then you will do well.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
Through working with colleagues and on the job mentoring. The best mentoring I have had is working with people at a senior management level and discussing issues or problems with them, or relaying client circumstances and gaining their perspectives and assistance on certain issues. In a people focused world, and working in a regional office, that is a really important part of my job. At SGPB Hambros we do get access to senior management which is great.
How would you describe the culture at SGPB Hambros?
It combines an entrepreneurial atmosphere and working environment with the heritage of the Hambros name and the breadth of the SG network within Europe. It feels like a smaller bank than previous banks, with a flat structure and not too hierarchical. People do not appear to be intimidated by talking to senior management, which is a positive.
It is a very open and positive working environment where decisions are made relatively quickly – and that is partly because it is an open environment. There is a good team spirit and it is encouraged that we work as a team and across teams. The bank is open to ideas and ways of developing the business. It is acknowledged that it is important to develop talent and to bring in a range of different individuals. I don’t think I’ve worked in an organisation where there has been such diversity, in terms of experience and skills. We all benefit from working with each other.