This week the spotlight is on the women in our business as we celebrate and raise awareness for International Women’s Day (IWD).
When did you join ABN AMRO?
I joined ABN AMRO in August 2016, however I’m no stranger to the team here in Haywards Heath as I worked for Venture Finance for seven years between 2001-2008.
Where did you come from?
I have worked in Invoice Finance for the last 18 years. I started out at Barclay’s Sales Financing on the freezing Hastings seafront and have since worked for Venture, Shawbrook and Bibby, before (returning to) ABN AMRO. I have worked primarily in Client/Relationship Management in the corporate segment, however, I cut my teeth early on in a number of operational roles such as Credit Control, Debtor Litigation and Reconciliations which has given me great experience of the mechanics of Invoice Finance facilities.
I also had a few unusual jobs straight out of college; I was a computer games tester for a company called Probe Entertainment and I was a Blue Coat at Pontins (Hi-de-Hi campers!) in Camber Sands which is where I met my wife Nickie.
What is your role here at ABN AMRO?
My role here at ABN AMRO is that of a Credit Analyst in the Risk department. The role includes assessing the credit risk of our clients and prospects. In essence this is assessing the risk in various aspects of the business such as structure risk, business risk, financial risk and asset risk to form conclusions as to whether it is an acceptable risk for ABN AMRO. As a Risk Level 2 (R2) approver I am involved in considering client amendments and am a UK Credit Committee quorum member.
I am also a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee which is a cause I am very passionate about. I strongly believe a diverse team of employees brings with it a vast rage of skills and experience and encourages a more creative and innovative working environment. Not only do I think diversity is an asset to the business but also a responsibility of ABN AMRO to cultivate an environment of respect and inclusion for all of our colleagues. Along with supporting International Women’s Day we are planning a number of other exciting events throughout the year so watch this space…
What’s the biggest value-add your role brings to clients?
As a Credit Analyst it is my role to ensure I understand the client’s/prospect’s business to make sure we are offering appropriate facilities for their credit requirements in a responsible and reliable way. While I may not always be able to support the initial proposal, I always work hard, in conjunction with the Business Development Managers, to find an appropriate facility structure for the prospect.
Who do you mainly interact with?
I have a lot of interaction with a number of areas in the business, for example I work closely with the Relationship Managers, Asset Managers and Business Development Managers on the various clients or prospects we are looking at. I have a lot of interaction with the Commercial Assistants in terms of satisfying conditions of approval and deal closing. As a quorum member I also have a lot of interaction with senior managers and our colleagues in the Netherlands as part of the approval process.
I can’t fail to mention my colleagues in the Credit Risk Management Team. I have honestly never worked with a more supportive, generous and collaborative bunch of people. No two deals are ever the same, so we often discuss the various propositions between us to learn from each others experience.
Since our merger to form ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance (ABF) in January 2018, we have been working to bring together ABN AMRO’s Commercial Finance and Lease risk teams. Over the last 12 months we have worked on a number of combined credit approvals with our Lease colleagues and have held a number of events jointly to foster a “One ABF” approach.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
It never gets boring! As I alluded to above, no two deals are the same, and you never know in which direction a deal might take you. One minute you could be researching the affects of certain political outcomes on specific markets and next you could be assessing the risk of disposing of 6,000 lemon drizzle cakes!
What does this year’s International Women’s Day theme #BalanceforBetter mean to you?
I think the theme #BalanceforBetter says it all really. Better gender balance produces better outcomes. Not just for the individual or the economy, but for society as a whole. It really is as simple as that. However, #BalanceforBetter is not just a female issue; it is something everyone needs to take responsibility for true balance to be achieved.
Who is a female you admire and why?
My female role model is my Grandmother. She was born in Bangalore, India in the 1930s and grew up on a goldmine where her father worked. She trained as a nurse and came to the UK in the 1950s where she met my Grandad who was an engineer in the army. She worked as a nurse in a London A&E department for the majority of her career while raising her four daughters. Undoubtedly the matriarch of the family, she is my role model in her strength and courage to move to a new continent to start a new life. She managed a very successful yet demanding career along with raising a large family, a struggle as relevant today as it was in the 50s & 60s. She had a boundless joy for life and friendship and had a wicked sense of humour. Sadly, now at the age of 86, she has been suffering with Alzheimer’s for a number of years. While it is devastating to see this once vibrant, unstoppable force of nature fade in front of my eyes, I feel like the baton has been passed on to me and that her spirit and energy will live on through her Grandchildren into future generations.
Where do you live?
I live in Brighton with my wife Nickie and our cat Sarah-Jane (a homage to Sarah-Jane Smith, a beloved Doctor Who companion from the 70s). Although we have lived in Brighton for 16 years we have only recently purchased our first house which we are in the process of renovating. Brighton is unique in its balance of bohemian and cosmopolitan identities and a great example of how promoting diversity and inclusion can inspire and invigorate communities.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I am a psychotherapist for the NHS in a counselling service in London. I am also in my final year of an MSc at Greenwich in Therapeutic Counselling, so the majority of my spare time is currently spent working on my dissertation looking at the impact of internet use and social media on mental health and social relationships.
What is your favourite film?
I know it’s not a film but I am a massive Doctor Who fan (those in the Haywards Heath office will be familiar with the Dalek on my desk!). I have loved Doctor Who since I was a child and was absolutely thrilled when they bought it back in 2005. Underneath the adventures of travelling through time and space, I think it sends a good message about tolerance and compassion (throughout the universe). The Doctor’s promise, ‘never cruel or cowardly; Never give up, never give in’ is one we could all learn from. I also applaud the BBCs decision to use a female actor in what was traditionally a male lead. Since the new series aired it has introduced a whole new group of fans (young and old) to the show and demonstrates that women can be a hero (and save the world!).
What is your favourite kind of meal?
I love seafood so any excuse to celebrate we head down to my favourite seafood restaurant on Brighton seafront.
What was your earliest ambition?
A favourite family anecdote is from when I was three years old and wanted to be ‘a lorry driver with big boots’. As children, we are not born with a gendered idea of what we can or can not do, it is only later that we are socialised into ‘gender appropriate’ roles. Throughout my career I have primarily worked in male dominated industries and it would be dishonest to say that my gender has not presented a challenge at times. However I have also been lucky enough to work with some pioneering women who have supported me and given me the strength to persevere in the face of resistance. The role and perception of women in business has changed for the better over the last decade and continues to progress which is why it’s important for ABN AMRO to acknowledge events like International Women’s Day and encourage diversity and inclusion throughout the business.