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My Path to Management, with Katherine Ibbotson

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Today is International Women’s Day, a day where we look to celebrate female professionals setting the standard within their respective industries. You may have seen our blog article from a few days ago where we highlighted some incredible business women disrupting the Banking industry. We’re continuing with the theme of Women in Banking. We have asked our very own Katherine Ibbotson, Head of our Banking & Front Office function to talk us through her career and in particular, her path to management. Here’s what Katherine had to say:

“Well, where do I begin? I suppose we’ll start with my 9 years at a London-based recruitment firm! We operated from within a small room in a tiny office. The firm was just starting up back then, so we didn’t have the swanky offices you see today. I started as a junior in an Associate Consultant role, just learning on the job. My first year was tough, I used to come in early and finish late most days, even with the long hours you associate with recruitment. Doing this for my first year, training as a Sales/Trading Recruiter, definitely helped me in the long-run.

My next step was a big one, to build a division of my own within my first recruitment firm. After my first year, I was able to develop a sub-team where we were recruiting within the Structuring/Quants space. It was a huge challenge, but all my hard work and the intuition I showed paid off as I had my own business unit, my team! I was able to hire and subsequently train a junior, then grow my team to three. We were smashing our targets and that was an amazing feeling for us.

Don’t get me wrong, my determination was really paying off, but every career has its setbacks. Mine was in 2008 when the credit crunch hit and I can tell you, it hit me and my sub-team very hard. The Structuring/Quants market relied heavily on exotic derivatives that were high risk, and therefore far too difficult to find roles for after the global recession. We realised that this market was flooded with candidates and there was barely any jobs.

I never let knock backs like this get me down. I knew I could find a way for me and the business to excel again and I did by diversifying the business through building new units. These included new product areas with far less risk involved. We realised that we needed to evolve, so we did. This led me to be the first to build capital markets within the company, recruiting within the DCM, ECM, and Investment Banking sectors, more specifically alongside private equity and M&A clients.

It was difficult juggling my job as a Recruiter and my responsibilities as a Team Lead, that’s why sacrifice was necessary as I made the decision to spread my best clients out between my team members so they could work with some really great partners and succeed. This also meant I was heavily involved in mentoring, training and developing each of my people.

I eventually found my stride in maintaining the ‘balancing act’ as I called it and was effective for the business and definitely for my team. This allowed me to progress to Principal Consultant, followed by Managing Principal, Sales Manager, then Division Manager. The reason behind my success was sheer dedication, we were all committed to the cause and I happened to be one of four successful female leaders who progressed together at my old firm because we encouraged one another to strive for success. The women I worked alongside were empowering and we all had to build our own business units, organically growing the business alongside each other. I would say we were role models to one another and that has shaped the type of leader I am today.

After rising through the ranks, so to speak, I knew it was time for me to move on, to take on a whole new challenge and really be responsible for something big such as building a division from scratch. I wanted an ambitious recruitment start-up that aligned with my vision - that’s why I chose to work for Hamlyn Williams. The ambitious and entrepreneurial nature of the business, along with that of the hard-working CEO convinced me that playing a more significant role in a fast-paced start-up was my true calling. I know I am an integral part of the journal that Hamlyn Williams is going on and the fact that the company didn’t have strong female leadership at the time, motivated me to kick start this.

Hamlyn Williams just stuck out to me as an ambitious firm with a real entrepreneurial mindset, it seemed as though it was dedicated to becoming bigger and better in everything they took on, I wanted a piece of that! They gave me full autonomy to start-up the Banking & Front Office function over the space of 2 years where we are expanding our offering exponentially, covering most of EMEA. My team is now six strong and continuing to grow. The opportunity for each of my team members to grow and succeed, building out their own recruitment portfolio is as good an opportunity as I’ve seen!

I would say the most important aspect of my job is fostering the growth of my people. Success should be encouraged by me and not an instant expectation of my team. How effective you are as a Business Lead is mostly dependant on the quality of each team member which is why we hire highly ambitious hard-workers and then subsequently nurture their growth and development within the firm through dedicating a good amount of time to motivating, coaching, mentoring, empowering, and up-skilling each and every person.

To anyone aspiring for something in their career, I would say that gender is irrelevant, recruitment especially is a meritocratic environment where performance, initiative and hard work is rewarded incredibly. There’s no getting away from the fact that in my area, there are far less women than men in senior leadership roles within Banking recruitment. But to all female grads – this is changing! Let the performance do the talking and you’ll never let your gender be restrictive.”

 

Feeling inspired? Why not get in touch with either Katherine at k.ibbotson@hamlynwilliams.com or with us at info@hamlynwilliams.com or by calling 0203 675 2920 to explore the latest opportunities we are offering within recruitment.