WERKIN is powering the mentorship programme at the UK’s Women in Banking and Finance, a membership organisation for finance and banking professionals looking to achieve their full career potential, helping to bolster female contribution to the industry along the way.
In a recent Ask-Me-Anything, WIBF mentor Charlotte Livingston, spoke with WERKIN’s Relationship Manager, Alex D’Sa, before taking questions from mentors and mentees in the WIBF collective. In the Q+A below, Charlotte shares her journey as Managing Director working in the Institutional Client Management Group at the Royal Bank of Canada:
Alex D’Sa: Please give us an intro to you and an overview of your current job and roles and responsibilities.
Charlotte Livingston: I am a Managing Director working in the Institutional Client Management Group at RBC. I’ve been at RBC for 12 years, prior to which I was at Barclays Capital, before starting out at JP Morgan, where my roles have seen me move from operations, to middle office, then to RBC in the front office. In my current role I view myself as a client specialist, and a product generalist. I cover banking institutions in Spain, France, Germany and Italy. I work across banking groups covering the bank, the asset manager, insurance company, speciality finance subs and any other subsidiaries whilst liaising with C-Suite down to traders, with the aim to institutionalise relationships that RBC has or is targeting.
Alex: Now having a client-facing role, how has your skill set changed moving through operations, middle office, and front office in banking institutions?
Charlotte: Working with clients is harder than people give credit to, as one has to ensure that they are served correctly whilst spotting business opportunities. Being organised, at the forefront of thinking about ideas for your clients and immediately following up on requests stands you ahead of the crowd. The beauty of working with clients is that every day is different which I really like, however you do need to be adaptable and be able to think fast on your feet.
Today, especially where more products are becoming commoditised, and technology-driven, the focus on relationships and people is key. In the end, we are human and we like to work with people that we like and relate to.
Alex: What has been the one skill or personality trait that has helped you in your career?
Charlotte: Adaptability – it’s incredibly important throughout your career.
Alongside adaptability I would add common sense. Going with your gut rather than a textbook answer.
Tenacity is also incredibly important. I've learnt as you get older, when to be tenacious, and when to push and when to hold back. Don't be afraid to speak up but choose the right time to do so. Make sure that people know what you want to do and what your aspirations are.
With regards to tenacity, many people don’t follow up. It is not that difficult a thing to do, but not many people do it. Be the person to grab hold of things and run with them. Make sure you bring people with you, be a team player.
Alex: How have mentors helped shape your decision-making and your career path?
Charlotte: I was very lucky, I had a couple of very good bosses who were mentors. They taught me the importance of being given freedom, and provided enough of a leash for me to see where my capabilities lay, what I could do and what I could be interested in. I work with many graduates who put pressure on themselves believing they need to know what they want to do, I suggest getting as much experience across as many different areas as possible. Don’t give yourself a hard time thinking “I don’t know where I should be.” I think your skillset, what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy actually come out the more types of jobs that you try. As you go up in management, it gets harder to make those moves.
The benefit of mentors is that they provide a different perspective. Getting mentors outside of your organisation or industry can provide a different view on how they would do things, and their own struggles.
They can provide guidance and counsel both from a personal and a work perspective. People can get very tied up in work and loose perspective of what matters and what doesn't matter. Mentors from outside my organisation know me well therefore I think they can be more brutal about what I'm not good at, or how I should hone my skills going forward.
Alex: Touching on that personal element, you've been on maternity leave and you’ve recently come back. What are some factors that supported you to maintain your career trajectory even as you started to family?
Charlotte: I came back after a year off and noted that my time away, whilst seemed long to me, was actually nothing from a work perspective. I got back my client relationships straightaway, and as these were relationships I’ve had for years, luckily they all welcomed me back! When going back to work after any time away its important to hit the ground running, however don't underestimate the difficulty of juggling it all. It’s important to put the foundations and support network behind you to make sure that you can juggle a successful career with being a parent.
Everyone is different though and you need to consider your role and what you can make work. Since having children, I now get into work early, and as much as I can, I leave at 5pm to have an hour with my kids before bed. It’s not much, but I’ve made it a routine and my colleagues are now aware of my working pattern. I think I am more productive and more effective because I want to get home and see my children. Time is precious, you don’t get it back.
WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform helps global organisations manage, measure and scale diversity & inclusion programs in today’s workplace. Used in more than 20 financial institutions worldwide, WERKIN is accelerating underrepresented talent into senior executive positions.