Dena Brumpton joined Barclays in 2015. She previously worked for Citibank for 30 years, initially joining the bank’s asset management division in 1985 to develop its Islamic finance proposition. She is now the CEO of Barclays Wealth & Investments.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not since I was about 14 when I wanted to be an actress or a doctor. However, on looking at my grades my careers advisor suggested I try nursing instead!
Ultimately, I decided that no one was going to limit what I could achieve and that whatever I decided to do, I would do well. My career so far has been a succession of interesting jobs, with each assignment building on the last and bringing a new learning experience at the same time.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
When I went to work in Tokyo, I was the only professional woman in the office. That presented a real challenge for them as well as me – they dealt with it by treating me like an honorary man!
One of the challenges of working in the financial industry is that many of us have to work in the city, so you have a commute at either end of your day. It can be tricky to balance work, children and other commitments, so you have to figure out what, if anything, you need to trade.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
Just do it! We’re never truly ready for the next big job, so be confident in your ability, ask for the role and be comfortable working with ambiguity. Try to upskill – put yourself in a position where you’re learning new things – volunteer for projects outside of your natural comfort zone or area of expertise.
Surround yourself with great people and then learn to delegate – put your trust in others to be the subject matter experts instead of you knowing everything.
How do you manage your own boss?
Frequent communication and no surprises. That doesn’t mean calling every two seconds but when there is an issue, communicate early and make sure you have a few suggestions on how you will resolve the problem as well.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
When I’m in London, I always start the day with a phone call to my husband and our children. Then it’s early to the office – usually around 7.30am and then I cram my day until around 8pm. On those days, I don’t have time for a social life in London – that’s for when I’m at home in Gloucestershire with family and friends.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations
Make yourself be known. Volunteer for things, speak up in meetings, make sure people know you have a point of view. Remember that your reputation will always precede you, so when you do something you have to make sure you do it well.
We are responsible for our own careers. If you’re unhappy with it then change it!
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
I’m not keen on forced mentorship. I do have mentors that I talk about my career journey with, but it’s not a formal arrangement. Some of them are friends who I’ve known for many years and are able to challenge me and provide support when I’m deciding whether to make a big career shift. I like reverse mentoring – I often ask junior members to help me with something so I can approach it from a different perspective.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker?
In my view, while networking doesn’t always work – it has to be in your DNA to keep in touch with connections you’ve made at an event like you would your friends – your network can be one of your most valuable assets. I believe that networks have to be built over a number of years, instead of trying to achieve such relationships in one night.
Sometimes the best connections are made during times of adversity, where we’ve all been in the same boat and have managed to bond over it – rather than at a networking event.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully more of the same! I love my job and the people I work with. Barclays has given me an amazing opportunity – being the CEO, Barclays Wealth & Investments, in our home market and in a market that is growing rapidly.