Women navigating a career at the top!

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On Friday 14th June, we hosted the first panel event in our London Head Office at 125 London Wall. Featuring Susie Aliker, Chief Executive Officer of BACB (British Arab Commercial Bank Plc), Pilar Rocafort - Managing Director at UBS and Siobhan Godley - Partner at Deloitte, the panel delivered inspiring insight and advice for navigating a senior career.

We sat down with Purnima Sen, Operations & People Director at Sparta Global and moderator of the panel, to find out more about the event and why diversity is critical in industry.

 

Why did you want to host Women navigating a career at the top! at Sparta Global?

We knew developing and hosting an event that celebrated the success of three highly accomplished women would be incredibly valuable for our trainees, Spartans and industry peers. While Sparta Global’s end goal is to cultivate the best digital talent offering in the UK for our clients, our academies offer more than training in practical technical and business skills. During training our Spartans are given access to a rounded learning experience that helps them nurture the soft skills and wider industry understanding they need to excel in their technology careers. 

Our new Head Office in London has presented us with significant space to hold events. I was really keen to re-introduce our Tech Talk programme with industry guests and host panels that would give our talent real insight into people’s careers and their journeys, while giving professionals the chance to share their advice with the next generation of tech talent.

How did you select the panelists?

Women navigating a career at the top! was a panel idea born from meeting three exceptionally successful women who all had stories to tell. It was a delight to moderate the panel and discuss their careers, what advice they would give to their younger selves and why taking risks can often lead to amazing opportunities. Our panelists included:

  • Susie Aliker - Chief Executive Officer of BACB (British Arab Commercial Bank Plc)

 

Susie has more than 20 year’s experience in global financial services, is a qualified accountant and holds an MBA. Susie’s career began on the Unilever graduate training programme, following which she worked in corporate finance and strategic planning roles in the retail sector. She joined BACB in 2014, was appointed to the Board in September 2017 and into the role of Chief Executive in June 2018. BACB plc is a mid-size bank which specialises in trade and commodity finance, as well as high-end UK real estate lending. BACB plc has an asset base of c.$4.5bn.

Susie has now held Senior Manager Functions 1, 2 and 3 under the regulatory SMCR regime, with her role as CEO covering all aspects of running the Bank - including business development, risk and compliance, IT and operations.
 

  • Pilar Rocafort - Managing Director at UBS

 

Pilar has an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona and - after completing her junior year in Berkeley, California - graduated in Business and Economics from CEU University in Madrid.

In her role as MD, Pilar is also Head of EMEA Specialist Sales and Global Consumer Specialist Sales covering food manufacturing, beverages, tobacco and household and personal care. Pilar joined UBS in London in 2002 and has since been top ranked in both Institutional Investor and Extel across all four sectors. 

Her client coverage responsibilities range from Long Only Funds to Hedge Funds across a global landscape. Previously Pilar worked at Paribas as a Corporate Finance Analyst in London and was then responsible for Pan-European Sales at DrKW covering large international accounts.

  • Siobhan Godley – Partner at Deloitte

 

Siobhan Godley is a partner in Deloitte’s Real Estate Tax team. As a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Tax Advisor, she has more than 20 year’s experience working on complex real estate transactions for major real estate companies, REITS, private equity funds and institutional funds (including sovereign wealth and pension funds).

Siobhan has advised on real estate transactions with acquisition values in excess of £6.8 billion over the last two years. These include direct and indirect property sales and disposals and corporate due diligence restructuring of real estate assets. Siobhan is a frequent presenter at UK and overseas tax conferences and client seminars.

What were the key takeaways and main insights from the event?

I wanted the event to provide our trainees, Spartans and special guests with insight into how our three panelists achieved their career success. They were incredibly forthcoming with the challenges they had faced in trying to climb the corporate ladder and provided great advice for overcoming such obstacles, including:

  • Be passionate about what you do
  • Never stop learning
  • Strive to continuously reinvent yourself
  • Never be afraid to ask questions
  • Take chances and risks - they may lead to great things
  • Build your personal brand - What three things do you want to be known for? Work on what makes you different and follow your story through. Every story has a start point, middle and an end - don’t be afraid to map your career in the same way
  • Show confidence and poise in whatever you do: it’s important to be adaptable and have a fantastic attitude
  • Surround yourself with good mentors
  • Build a culture of collaboration and treat everyone with respect as you do

 

Our three women panellists were chosen because of their achievements – not because of their gender. However, Pilar, Siobhan and Susie all agreed upon the importance of driving diversity initiatives to improve business value. Diverse teams are the most successful teams, they bring different perspectives and different ideas to the table. The main advice for women in the board room? Be assertive, never aggressive.

Did Women navigating a career at the top! achieve what you set out to do?

I saw the panel event as a real success. We had a brilliant turnout, with representatives from our C-suite clients, companies based in the London Wall area, Spartans on client site nearby and our talent currently in training. Everyone was engaged with the panel and stayed late on a Friday evening to network and learn more from each other.

Our fantastic panelists went above and beyond to give back to our trainees and offer them one-to-one advice that I know will prove invaluable when they kickstart their own careers. They gave them the advice they wished someone had given them at the start of their careers. Equally, our Spartans and trainee talent were complimented for being confident and forthcoming with their questions. The evening proved once more that the well-rounded training we give to graduates is helping to nurture future leaders who will have the world at their feet.