A&O Consulting - Executive Director
While studying Banking and Finance at Loughborough University, I was delighted to secure a role during my placement year working at Deloitte. This meant I could study towards my ACA qualifications and importantly secure a job before finishing university. I joined Deloitte in 1999 as a junior auditor working in the Financial Service division and at the same time studying for my ACA.
I had always wanted to work in banking and after I qualified, I took on a role within Product Control for Barclays Capital, covering foreign exchange. After three years, I moved to Deutsche Bank to work in commodities product controls. When a close colleague moved to Lehman Brothers, he encouraged me to join the team as we both felt it was a great move for our careers….!
On September 15th 2008, when Lehman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I was on a plane to India to work for six weeks as part of a wider work migration. I landed in Mumbai to countless emails and I booked straight onto the next flight home. As I had to wait a day, at least I got to pass the time by enjoying a truly authentic curry whilst watching a rather less authentic Elvis impersonator perform in the hotel bar.
Back in London, and with the dust starting to settle, I was very much of the mind-set that these things happen for a reason. The administrators incentivised us to stay with the business until January 2009, by which point I had lined up a move to JP Morgan to backfill a Product Control role for an ex-colleague, and I considered myself very lucky.
After five years at JP Morgan, I was excited to accept my next challenge as a business manager within the regulatory and strategy team. Although my career was by no way mapped out at this stage, I trusted my instinct and embraced the change. I eventually became one of the culture and conduct leads for the Investment Bank, which included developing and implementing their inaugural culture and conduct programme. I am extremely interested in culture and human behaviour and used this to develop an in-depth understanding of how culture varies across a number of regions, from Argentina to Taiwan, identifying best practice and suggesting ways for local leadership to improve their culture.
With five years’ experience in a culture role, I was eager to learn more and, once again, my network delivered the perfect opportunity. Never one to stand still, I applied for a role as an Executive Director at A&O Consulting. I was keen to take what I had learnt and help clients across a number of different sectors. Although I was again stepping out of my comfort zone, I had the assurance that I was joining a spin-off of a fully-fledged and extremely well respected global law firm, with all the talent and infrastructure that brings.
The fresh challenge of liaising with clients and delivering meaningful and sustainable change has been great for me. I empathise with client’s pain points and I know how to measure success along the way. I am continually learning from new clients and their employees and genuinely no one day is the same.
At A&O Consulting, we are empowered to try new things and we have the autonomy to pursue activities and opportunities. The team are incredibly supportive, and we are all learning together to shape the business. Working for a partnership rather than a corporation means that decisions are made quickly, so we can be responsive to clients’ needs. The team has a real mix of skillsets and experiences – pure consultants, regulatory experts, lawyers and industry veterans – creating a diversity of thought that serves clients well.
To anyone considering joining A&O Consulting, I’d say be open, flexible and curious. There are so many opportunities to learn new skills and be involved in new projects. We have a non-hierarchical way of working where everyone’s views are valued. Question, challenge and improve things and, most importantly, enjoy it all!