Careers City Rising Star, Sarah Hanafy currently works as an International Cash Management Specialist for RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland). Sarah has been with RBS for 3 years, previously working as an international marketing manager and consulting on a new RBS-government agency partnership. Sarah originally began her career as a political advisor in Canada, where she spent 5 years advising senior Cabinet Ministers, and is most proud of her role as Director of Issues Management & Legislative Affairs for the Minister of Finance. Sarah left Canada in 2008 to pursue an MBA in Barcelona where she lived for 2 years. During that time she also briefly worked as a consultant for Philips in Amsterdam.
Tell us a little bit about a day in the life of an International Cash Management Specialist for RBS
RBS is an international bank in over 34 countries around the world. I work as an International Cash Management specialist in the bank’s Transaction Services division advising large corporates and financial institutions on how to manage their cash and liquidity overseas. A normal day for me would include visiting clients (typically the Finance Director, Treasury Manager, or CFO), explaining how the RBS global network can support them, and advising on how they can improve their treasury operations with cash management solutions. My clients typically have a turnover of anywhere from £25 million, upwards of £10 billion. Supporting a portfolio of over 100 clients, my typical day could involve anything from opening a corporate account in Hong Kong, to structuring a European cash pool, or travelling to Greece to meet with my shipping clients.
What did you study or what experience did you obtain in order to get in to your current role?
I completed a degree in International Relations and Economics and began my career working as a political advisor in Canada. I spent 5 years in government, and as a senior director to the Minister of Finance, I was privileged to advise on some of the country’s biggest issues and finance legislation. I decided however that I wanted a more international career and left to obtain my MBA from a top international school in Spain where I lived for 2 years. While at the time I had been hoping to either continue living in Spain or work in finance in South America, in 2010 options were limited and it was then that I found myself moving to London, a city I’d never even visited before, to begin working for RBS.
I’ve really enjoyed living in the UK and working for RBS.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
I truly enjoy meeting clients and discussing their treasury – each customer is unique, and it’s wonderful to meet them to discuss how we can help and support them as they grow their business.
Can you tell us a little bit about what is great about working for the Royal Bank of Scotland Group?
RBS is a brilliant organisation to grow your career. In my time here, I’ve been able to move between different roles, and take on an active position within the Group’s women’s network allowing me to devote time to the important issue of diversity which RBS takes very seriously.
It’s excellent to work for an employer that values their workforce and is willing to invest in its people.
Do you network either internal or externally?
As the Global CSR Chair for the RBS Focused Women’s network, I have had the opportunity to network both internally and externally with our members and the bank’s clients around the world. RBS Focused Women is our internal organisation of over 8000 members globally, promoting diversity and women within RBS. As the Global CSR Chair, I oversee all of our activity with charitable partners, fundraising activity, and internal/external CSR events management. In my day-to-day role looking after International Cash Management, I also have the opportunity to link in my work to promote diversity with several female treasury managers. This is in addition to the many client receptions, seminars, and networking events that RBS hosts throughout the year. Finally, I am also an advocate for higher learning, attending various MBA seminars and university recruitment events to discuss the value of obtaining an MBA and the benefits of working at a business like RBS.
Tell us about your own career aspirations?
I hope to have a well-rounded career, understanding how business works from every angle. I have been blessed to work in several different functions and industries, and hope that I can continue to grow as an individual, ultimately sitting on a board and managing the global strategy of a major corporation.
I also hope that one day (very far) in the future I can open my own business – preferably somewhere near a beach!
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in your profession?
I would advise others to follow opportunities wherever they lead, and don’t be afraid of taking a risk.
Sometimes your career path doesn’t follow the same route you planned and if you’re willing to try different things and make the most of new experiences you can really grow your career. I work in banking, and many believe that to have a career in finance it’s a very defined career path. In my experience, this absolutely has not been true. I have found that most corporations today are looking for skilled individuals who can apply their knowledge to their role. Additionally international experience is a great advantage in today’s marketplace, and can grow your network of contacts.