Naomi Bowman is a managing director based in BRG’s London office.
She has a diverse background, having worked in tax and advisory at two Big Four firms before moving to a British multinational banking and financial services holding company, where she held senior roles including global legal COO and head of Governance & Operations for the bank’s Monitor Liaison Office. She has advised global banks on some of the most prominent regulatory changes, integrations, and insolvencies during the past decade.
In 2014, Ms. Bowman won Women in the City’s Future Leaders Award. In 2015, she was named as one of Financial Director’s 35 under 35, a list of the brightest talents under thirty-five years old in business. She is a Chartered Accountant (ACA) with the ICAEW and a Fellow of the International Compliance Association (FICA).
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I have a diverse and slightly unusual background. I graduated with a degree in Classics before embarking on my Chartered Accountancy training with PwC. I began my career in FS Tax Advisory but quickly realised that I was better suited to Consulting so moved internally after two years into the Banking team. I have worked for two Big 4 firms (PwC and EY) and spent 4.5 years at HSBC – working in a number of senior global strategy and operations roles (within the Financial Crime Compliance and Legal functions) within before joining BRG in September 2017 as a Financial Services Advisory Managing Director.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I never sat down and mapped out my career in a linear way although I did consciously think about “why” I was choosing certain career options. For me, studying for the ACA was something which I saw would open up many options (which it did). I never wanted to be pigeon holed – that was a big fear. I have always enjoyed solving tricky problems and finding new ways of doing things – and I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to hone these skills throughout my career.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Absolutely – changing service line from Tax to Advisory was challenging in terms of convincing senior leaders that I had the adaptability and tenacity to change the way that I approached situations and also flex my style. Moving out of the Big 4 and into HSBC was a challenge as I had never worked in industry before and I was stepping into the unknown. Moving from one of the largest banks in the world with such impressive infrastructure and technology to a rapidly growing and highly entrepreneurial consultancy firms was also hugely challenging. However, I also see these three moves as the key defining moments and biggest opportunities in my career to date.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I have mentored many individuals throughout my career. Sometimes this has been through a formal programme but more often than not, it’s as a result of seeing potential in an individual and naturally undertaking a mentoring role without calling it that. Similarly, I am mentored by a number of wonderful people but I am not sure we would label the relationship “mentor” / “mentee”. I find that the best examples have evolved after I successfully executed a project for / worked for an individual and we then mutually made an effort to maintain a relationship. Also, mentoring doesn’t have to be one way – ideally it should be reciprocal.
What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?
I have seen huge progress when it comes to gender diversity at the graduate / junior levels over the past decade. I’d like to see more senior level roles undertaken by women in the next five years and to see more women on boards. In terms of LGBT+, I think we have come a long way in terms of promoting inclusive workplaces and I have seen the number of LGBT+ events and networks grow substantially. Similarly, a greater spotlight has been shone on increasing the number of BAME senior leaders in recent years. I’d love it though if in the next five years that we achieved genuine diversity in the workplace (of thought, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc) so that these labels wouldn’t even need to exist – it would simply just be genuinely a diverse workforce as opposed to sadly feeling like a box ticking exercise.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
My belief is that we need more women in senior leadership roles – not just or token woman on the Board (or two) so that an organisation can meet their diversity target. It’s not changing quickly enough and I believe that’s because too many women are leaving the workforce mid career. Whilst I acknowledge that many women choose to do this in order to focus on their families, I know that for many others (from personal experience), the cost of child care is so significant that they decide instead to remain at home when they would have preferred to return to work. Until Parental Leave policies are upgraded across the board so that men and women have access to decent parental leave (without fear of being penalised), and without more affordable child care options, I do not think that this issue will be appropriately addressed. I believe strongly that this is both a public policy and business matter.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Becoming COO of a Global Function at HSBC at 32.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My immediate challenge will be successfully managing my return to work after maternity leave in January 2019. In terms of future aspirations, I look forward to growing BRG’s Financial Services Advisory team in the U.K. & beyond.