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My career started in Denmark, with a Masters degree in Maths and Economics. I started looking for jobs in quantitative analytics in London, but in 2001 it was hard to find what I wanted. I was offered a job in Barclays, in trade support in Finance. I hadn’t considered working in this area, but I found it really practical, interesting and energetic work. I started to explore Barclays for other opportunities, supported by my managers, and my network noticed me. I didn’t really know what an investment bank was, so I moved around departments, wanting to learn and dedicated to putting in the hours. I moved to New York for a while, which was fantastic, but my heart was in London so I came back.
I knew I wanted to be involved in making big decisions, so I moved into Risk Management in 2007. I was there on the trading floor when the financial crisis happened. It was a huge learning opportunity, but super stressful. At the time, the Risk function was firefighting, but after that the focus was on developing risk management going forwards. Our role is to protect the bank, its customers and our traders. Market Risk is about looking forward: no-one knows what is going to happen, but our job is to set up scenarios and stress tests and advise the board on which risks to take. It’s a very technical, high-pressure place to work, with a massive impact on the bank.
This is what makes Barclays such a good place to work. We can talk about the difficult topics.
I’m one of the few female Managing Directors in investment banking. I love this demanding role, leading a function that’s vital to the bank, and I need to give it 100%. I thought my long hours would be a problem when I had my son, but my manager was very supportive. When I came back from maternity leave I told him I’d need to leave work at 5pm because I want to put my son to bed – I don’t see him in the morning because I come to work early. I can log back on to work at home, but I need to leave at 5pm. That’s how I balance my life. I’m lucky to have good childcare, which allows me to focus on my work, and I’ve become much better at managing my time. Barclays is very good at supporting our people to have more balanced lives.
In my time with Barclays, I have had only a few female Senior Managers to look up to. I was probably the first female Risk Management Manager to make Director, and even now I’m often one of the only woman in meetings. But I only think about it because we talk about it, and my background is in maths which is a male-dominated world. I’m a mentor for a few women; I understand their feelings and concerns, and I can tell them they are not alone. I can give them advice about how to operate successfully in this world, and how to manage their working relationships with others.