Can you tell us about your personal journey?
I’ve actually got quite an unusual background. I haven’t always worked in banking. In fact, I started out my career in the airline business and then moved into engineering and the industrial sector before joining banking. But I suppose my career has been characterised by two things- change and also variety. I’m lucky that I’ve worked in many different types of roles, from functional roles to frontline customer coverage type roles to leading major change and transformation across multiple sectors.
And for the last 15 years, I’ve worked in banking, and I’ve pretty much worked my way around most roles in a bank which gives me quite a unique and broad perspective which I’m very grateful for. I sit on a few other boards as well which gives me a lot of different insight and perspectives. I sit on a FTSE250 board, Morgan Sindall, which is a construction regeneration and housing business. And then I also sit on a public sector board of HMRC, which is a vast organisation and very different to the business that I work in. That gives me a lot to think about and a lot to learn.
So I’m lucky that I have a career that’s been very varied and diverse across multiple areas. Different businesses, different sectors, different industries, and now able to bring some of the perspectives from working in different boards as well to my executive career.
Is digital transformation affecting banking and changing roles for women?
That’s a great question. I think that there’s been very deep change amongst our customers and their needs over the last decade or so in banking. Things have changed beyond belief.
We have 19 million customers, we have over 10 million of our customers are digital active users, 9 million mobile customers. And actually, two thirds of our retail customers only ever transact with us using their phone or other digital channels.
So there’s been a lot of change and some of that was driven by the pandemic when people interacted with their bank in a different way. But some of it has just been the improvement in those digital experiences for customers, the convenience of that. What we’ve been trying to do is marry the brilliance of technology, the brilliance of those digital experiences with also the warmth and intimacy of a bank that’s been around several hundred years and has a relationship focus. So that digital transformation I think brings about huge new opportunities for men and women, for colleagues of all different skills and backgrounds to really put those skills to best use.
How important is data in the succession and talent planning process?
Data is pivotal to any successful decision making in any business and particularly a business that’s powered by digital transformation. We take our commitments and our targets very seriously. We were one of the first companies to commit to putting in place targets for gender representation, we followed that with targets for ethnicity. And in order to measure our success, obviously we need the right data points to tell us whether we’re making progress or not.
Progress there on our targets is measured at an executive level. It forms part of our overall executive scorecards. It forms part of how our executive directors and our most senior population are recognized and rewarded and remunerated. We’ve had those targets in place for many many years.
How do you monitor succession and talent planning at NatWest?
42% of our senior management are women. We’re really proud of that progress. Similarly on ethnicity, we set targets a few years ago and we’ve made considerable progress on that. But data is one thing. What is really important, is action and positive action. We have many leaders across the bank that really care about our purpose and about the importance of inspiring and motivating and developing individuals to really achieve their potential.
We measure that progress. We talk about it. Marg Jobling and I, who’s our chief marketing officer, we chair meetings every month with all senior leaders across our business where we look at our progress. We challenge ourselves, we share best practice, and we really look at how we are pulling through that talent into senior management and executive positions.
So for us, because our purpose is all about championing potential, it’s a very natural thing for us to focus on. But you need to have the data points, the measures, the targets, the processes in place that really hold and help you be accountable.
Why did NatWest join 25×25?
For us, it was a very natural relationship to have. The whole purpose and objective of 25×25 is to really drive that executive talent forward into CEO positions. And that is not just about representation, that is about the positive pull through of talent into those positions and into chief executive roles where individuals can have that sphere of influence, can have that impact overall across the economy.
What’s been wonderful for us is the ability to benchmark our progress, challenge ourselves, look at how other companies are addressing this issue. We’ve learnt a lot through the partnership with 25×25, and we’re excited to see it continue.
How did the small caps module come about?
We back more than one in four businesses in this country. We have a million small business customers. We’re proud that about 18% of new start-ups in this country choose NatWest as their partner. And so we’ve got a lot of experience in supporting businesses right from start up to scale up, through to medium and large size companies, and of course large corporates and institutions.
So for us it was an area we are very passionate about. We know that often for small businesses they are also very passionate about supporting talent, supporting potential, supporting succession. But in some cases struggle to have the time or the opportunity to really have the right sort of tools and support. And so, we felt it was an area where we could add value. Working in partnership with 25×25 made a lot of sense to launch that small business model.
I think the other angle for us is we’ve been involved for many years in supporting female entrepreneurship. From the studies that we have done through the Rose Review, we found that only one in three new entrepreneurs was a woman. We felt that was leaving a lot of opportunity on the table for Britain and for our business.
And so, not only have we been providing funding to support new businesses backed by female entrepreneurs to scale and grow, we’ve been trying to put our expertise into that to help support those businesses. So the combination of the Rose Review, our work on female entrepreneurship, our support for British businesses together with clearly our focus on supporting executive talent and succession and diversity, really felt like a very natural collaboration for us to, you know try and take a leading role in and help collaborate on.