Bank boss shares her vision for our region

Jane Galvin speaking at the Barclays Global Woman in Leadership Forum - 22 October 2014

Jane Galvin speaking at the Barclays Global Woman in Leadership Forum - 22 October 2014 - Credit: Archant

Jane Galvin joined Barclays as a 16 year old in 1985 holding a variety of roles throughout the organisation from a bank cashier to her current role as head of corporate banking in the eastern region.

After working for Barclays HQ in London, this year saw her move to the eastern region leading a team of 400 staff make decisions about how to support businesses through lending or advice.

She also sits on the East of England CBI board and at Barclays she is a board member of the group women's network and a member of the group diversity board.

She admits that since moving to this region a lot of her time has been spent getting to know the area and its businesses.

'The biggest thing that surprised me was the difference in culture and community spirit here in the East of England. You have your Norfolk hub, your Suffolk hub, your Cambridgeshire hub, but there is also an overarching collective culture of support for the East of England,' she said.

'You don't feel that in London. London is just lots of diverse businesses. Everyone is just heading in their own direction. There isn't the same sense of pulling together to actually deal with an issue. I was pleasantly surprised actually at how strong the culture is here in the east.'

She added: 'I sit on the CBI board for the East of England and there we have about 30 businesses that are really focused on what they can do to represent businesses in the east. I've seen the Leps pull together, obviously they have managed to secure investment here in the east.'

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Arriving in post, her first task was developing her own 90 day plan into a three year strategy across the region developed and implemented by her leadership team.

'My first three months I just listened,' she said. 'I went and met a lot of customers, went out with a lot of relationship directors, support team leaders and I just formed views and thoughts really, made loads of notes, which didn't come easy, not just springing into action, but I made myself!

'For us, one of the big things is to grow market share, targeting 3pc in three years - I like to keep things simple for the team!' Another key part of her plan is encouraging her staff to engage with the community.

'We launched a development programme for all of the team as well, to actually achieve what they want to achieve,' she said. 'We have got a number of them appointed to boards of governors at schools in the community. A lot of my leaders are members on committees of the Leps, or different partnership schemes, the IOD board - for their own development and to get them thinking more broadly about the economy.'

In fact a lot of what she describes about her role does not sound like banking at all, and she concedes that banks are still vying to win back the trust of customers in the wake of the banking crisis.

And that in itself suggests how much banking has changed since she started in the industry and during the crisis which was a time she admits was a 'rollercoaster ride'. 'We have got to transform our business, to be honest,' she admitted. 'We acknowledge that we lost the trust of people on the high street. Actually when we launched our Transform programme about 18 months ago, we said we have got to change how people think about us. Even now people will still think about the downsides. What we are trying to do is get people to see all the good things that we do.

'We have been doing a lot of these good things for a very long time. It's not that we are totally changing, we need to bring these things to the forefront so that people understand the broader part of the business.

'This year even across the east we have run numerous life skills events with schools, colleges and businesses. We hold events for businesses for example to understand how they can adapt to work with people with disabilities or take on ex-military personnel. With our Digital Eagles programme we work with schools and care homes to help people get on line and getting them comfortable with using digital.

'Ultimately we want to be able to look customers in the eye and know that they trust us,' she said. 'We want to understand how you do business and understand the strength and integrity of the business, not focus on the few things that went wrong, or the few people that did things wrong, which have been dealt with, which we will continue to deal with.

'We are having to transform how people see us. I'd like to think we can recover that trust pretty quickly, particularly in the east because that's where Barclays was born.

'One of the things we have done differently this year is while we won't change the overlaying principles of how we decide to lend money, what we are doing far more of is if there is a business and we know lending them money will create jobs for the UK, it will be good for the local economy, we have a good relationship with them.

'If there is any reason why someone thinks, not sure, we will call half a dozen leaders on to the call to talk about it, and what would be the impact of us not lending.

'We also look at the implications of lending money to the business, and if it's right for the business. We really do discuss it at some length.

'We have always done that to a degree. As a leader of the east I spend a good chunk of my time focusing on that - to be the conscience of everyone in the region.'