We interview Cheryl Adams, Regional Director at Santander Corporate & Commercial Bank for Thames Valley, to hear about her success in the finance industry.
So tell us about how you came to work here?
I spent 23 years at RBS, working alongside Steve Pateman at the time (now, Executive Director, Head of UK banking at Santander) who was a great advocate for women in business. I found RBS a supportive and dynamic place to work, but was provided with an opportunity at HSBC where I spent some time working in Canada and New York. However, I soon found that the culture wasn’t the right fit for me and I struggled to advance my career.
Since joining Santander I’ve found no shortage of support, my line manager – Mike Reeves, Divisional Managing Director for ThamesValley and the South West Division - has been right behind me in my desire to develop my career. Santander promotes focusing on personal development – as a fast paced, entrepreneurial business where you’ll progress based on your merits – not who you know.So far it has delivered all of this and more.
What do you think are the benefits of working in Corporate and Commercial Banking?
Initially I wasn’t 100% confident on taking a role at Santander as it was a new entrant to Corporate Banking and was at the time 80 to 90% retail. However with prudent risk focus Santander has proved itself to be a dynamic, insurgent and growing company.
There’s been a huge drive for women in business, coming straight from the top with engagement from MarcelinoCastrillo, Managing Director SME Banking and a great role model of Angela Wakelin, Director of Risk & Operations who is very active with networks like EveryWoman. I’m very active in driving the Women in Business agenda and am Santander’s ambassador for Thames Valley and the South West. It’s a national forum with regional events and I run events that provide support and coaching for women, with external speakers on all sorts of issues relating to women in the workplace.
What’s also great to see is that there’s a lot of flexibility for working mothers. There’s a culture of accommodating to personal situations and trusting people like adults to do their jobs.
What I’ve also experienced is the recognition one gets here too. I’m very proud to say that I recently won the National People Award (Retail, Corporate and Commercial) which is an internal recognition where you are nominated based on how you manage and lead people. It was a great event and I got to meet Jenson Button! I’ve also been put forward to Business awards and have won Bank of the Year, Outstanding performer in the Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards.
What do you look for in your colleagues? What makes a great team?
The most important thing is diversity – having people from different backgrounds lets you see a challenge from all angles and come up with some really creative solutions. Our customer population is diverse and therefore we should reflect that in the makeup of our teams too.
It’s important that to join Santander you’ll need to be a dynamic individual and have ambition to succeed. Specifically for Relationship Manager or Relationship Director roles you need to come from a commercial or corporate background with good credit skills and a resilient nature.
The key difference to working at Santander as opposed to a long established bank is that you get the opportunity to make your impact and influence things like culture and policy.
Why do you feel it’s important to have women in senior positions?
Again, sometimes it’s all about having a different spin on things, working in different ways toward the same goal.
What has been your greatest influence in your career and why?
My family’s support. My father always said, “Give it a go – what’s the worst than can happen?”
What do you do in to relax?
Well I’ve taken up horse riding – I always wanted to but it’s only recently that I’ve had the opportunity. It’s actually quite dangerous, and despite a couple of falls it’s a really great experience. I’ve also recently moved house, which is a huge renovation project. We inherited a greenhouse when we moved in, so I’m enjoying growing my own vegetables in excessive quantities!
What one thing have you learned as a senior woman in the corporate world that you’d pass on to the talent community?
Don’t listen to the voice that says “you can’t do this because it won’t work”. At the end of the day, it might be right, but you can’t let it knock your confidence, just keep trying anyway!
And be persistent. If you want it, go for it.
Have a conversation with us if you’re interested in a career at Santander or want to find out more about the opportunities here. Don’t rule anything out.
Cheryl Adams has recently been nominated for Thames Value Large Business – Woman of the Year. Results released in September 2014 so we’ll update you on the outcome of this. Fingers crossed for Cheryl!