This month’s Network of the Month is the Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF) network.
WIBF is a non-profit membership organisation founded in 1980. Their corporate members include global financial services companies, major banks and firms servicing the industry. In partnership with internal networks, their individual members and LinkedIn and Twitter following, WIBF reaches several thousand professionals across the UK and Ireland. WIBF organises a variety of highly sought after events that address the needs and aspirations of corporate and individual members to develop, showcase and retain female talent and contribution. Every year since 1998, the WIBF Achievement Awards have celebrated top talents in the industry, recognising and rewarding remarkable achievements.
Tell us a little bit about your network (inc when you were founded and why, how many members, who leads the network, anything on your committees.
In 1980, a pioneering group started Women in Banking and Finance and began championing the role of women in the banking and finance industry. Our organisation aims to foster our members’ ambitious spirit, with networking events, development programmes and leadership opportunities. WIBF is a not for profit membership organisation with branches in London, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow, staffed primarily by voluntary Executive and Supervisory Boards and committees. Our executive board is profiled on our website. Founder members were Jane Bradford ; Susan Law; Lorraine Paddison; Margery Povall ; Anne Watts OBE.
What is your network’s prime objective?
We listen and work with individual and corporate members to develop and grow talent in the industry. Together, we are not afraid to say what needs to be said. We strive to go the furthest. We lead from the front. We drive change. We encourage solidarity. We are proud of our members’ achievements and the role WIBF plays in helping them get where they are. Our members and their stories are at the centre of our identity.
How is your network helping women to progress in the workplace?
With branches in Bristol, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow we have reach all over the UK, offering events that allow our members and non-members access to the very best of industry thought, insight and education. Our flagship Personal Excellence Programme, for example, sees hand-picked influential facilitators deliver straight-talking guidance and challenge participants to reach their goals. The sessions are often delivered with the valued support of WIBF’s corporate members. The annual WIBF Awards for Achievement create and celebrate role models in the industry. Our mentoring programme is focused on partnering members and helping them to deliver one-on-one support to each other.
Tell us about your events?
Don’t just take our word for it, listen to our members. We have members stories on our website. Edinburgh member Sally McFall describes WIBF events as informal but professional, with many chances to learn through formal offerings such as the personal excellence programme (PEP) events and one-to-one through mentoring. London member Pinar Parlar says: “At WIBF events you meet people who also want to get something out of it. For me, it is really interesting to meet people from different roles. I am in front office – sales and trading – and I want to get to know people who work in different product areas. After all you never know when you will need to talk to someone in that area.”
Given our geographic reach, why not pop by and develop your network in a new city if travelling?
What should we expect if we join?
Our events address the needs and aspirations of our corporate and individual members to develop, showcase and retain female talent and contribution. We do this by offering a wide range of industry-leading events, inspirational thought-leadership and networking opportunities. You can even improve public speaking skills, if that is your thing, by joining our Toastmasters clubs.
How do our members join your network, is there are fee?
We have been described as “the best deal in town”, with annual membership for individuals currently (2016) priced between £55 and £75, depending on location. Full details are on our website. Many of our benefits are free to members.
What advice would you give to anyone who is joining a network for the first time?
Dive in and give it a go. It can be daunting to join a new group for the first time but our members tell us it has opened doors for them and has been a positive experience. You never know who you will meet and what tips you will pick up. If all else fails, remember everyone else in the room was a first timer once as well.
Any top tips for new networkers? Why is building your network important?
Bring a card (or LinkedIn or Twitter profile) and don’t be afraid to use it. Be generous and “pay it forward” to people you meet, as opportunities and good fortune multiply this way.
Finally, what’s next for your network?
WIBF launched its new look and feel in 2016, with a confident and empowering logo, imagery and website. We love our new look and are pleased members are enjoying it too. We are focusing on members across the country and across a wide range of age groups. One of our new initiatives is around Millennials and we have a great group of people examining how to keep women of this generation happy and engaged working in the industry.
To find out more about WIBF and how to get involved, click here.