Having always loved solving problems and dealing with numbers, Katie left the world of Philosophy and Physics to join the Private Banking division of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2007. From then on she worked her way up the firm to become Head of Planning & Execution of the Lending & Capital Management team, managing a number of different responsibilities.
I look after operational risk and day to day business management within our Private Banking division. I previously studied Philosophy and Physics at university – I’ve always been interested in problem solving and numbers. However I’ve never really been that techie, so the relationship building within my job makes it the ideal mix for me. There’s always going to be technical problem solving in every role, so building upon these skills is important, but bear in mind the real focus is one of building client relationships, particularly those that have been hugely successful in the business. The real mixture of responsibility makes my role really exciting.
How did you get into banking?
To get into the industry I joined a graduate scheme after university; something that gave me the qualifications which would help me progress further and ensured I always had something to fall back on. It was important for me to consider the support on offer, as well as the experience I would gain from my first role after university. The graduate scheme offered me the perfect mix of challenge with the support from line managers and my buddy.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
What I enjoy most about my role is helping people and playing a critical part in their work; I touch many parts of the business so there is a lot I can do to improve and make an impact. We are incredibly client focused so every day the work we are doing is helping to grow relationships even further.
All of our areas of the bank, although vast, are connected. My work allows me to leverage this and my network further. I am always working with new people and linking in with new areas of the bank.
What I also love about my role is that I constantly use my brain, but in a different way to academia. I’ve had opportunities to work in other countries too; it certainly keeps me on my toes!
Is it true that you have no free time working in a bank?
I have time to cycle to work every day. I see the importance of fitting in exercise when you can. I’m reasonably bad at stopping my diary getting out of hand, but it’s all about managing expectations. There’s no need to work overtime if you manage your time well.
We have a strong focus on wellbeing, and speaking up if you are feeling your free time outside of work is being challenged. You always work better when you feel motivated and supported by your colleagues and seniors. This is in abundance here.
What is your average working day like?
Day to day, I’m interacting with a lot of people; even though I work in Private Banking I also link into wider banking which allows me to widen my network which is really important as you start to work your way up the career ladder.
An average day for me is spent in working groups progressing projects and updating my team on what is happening inside and outside of the bank. I have two teams that report to me so I spend a lot of time in team meetings. It makes my days incredibly varied and exciting.
What aspirations do you have in your career?
My aspirations are to make an impact in the banking industry, and the banking industry as a woman. Banking is changing, and it’s good to be part of a bank that is getting more diverse and inclusive. We are always conscious of the PR of banking and the part we play in society. We do lots to support female colleagues, by both men and women, and encourage our next future leaders coming in from our Early Career Programmes.
What challenges does the industry face?
The challenges facing the industry at the moment focus around ensuring we’re constantly keeping up with the pace of new technology – very much a taxi v Uber debate! Banking is an old industry, but we need to keep on top of innovation; peer-to-peer lending could make us defunct unless we keep progressing. We also have a huge image problem in the media and we need to know how to counter that. High quality people are always coming into banking, and it’s great we are attracting new talent to help us achieve this.
What advice would you give to people considering a career in banking?
A career in banking is a lot more accessible than people think. There are more opportunities now, and the skills you need mix both numeracy and relationship building so it’s a really great platform to start your career particularly after academia. You will be working with smart, intelligent, driven colleagues and this is the very best platform in which to start your career.
My advice would be to never hide your enthusiasm and drive; it will set you apart from the crowd.