Distinguished Leaders Series: HSBC


Ringfenced Banking Lead, Paul Szumilewicz (Commerce and Italian, 2003) and Lucy Williams (Head of UK Regulatory Compliance) from HSBC UK returned to campus on 19th January 2016 to share information about the company’s move from London to Birmingham and offer guests their pearls of leadership wisdom.

Paul explained that his leadership journey began right here at the University of Birmingham, where he was Vice-President for Sport in 2003/4,  “It was a tremendous year and a major influence on my future career, working with senior members of the University, running projects and leading people.”  Paul has gone on to have a very successful international career in Banking spanning four continents and seven countries including New York, Dubai and Lebanon.  From these experiences, Paul offered some really inspiring advice to the audience of 180 external guests, alumni, staff and students:

"Be Brave!  Seek opportunities that scare you – they are the things we learn the most from. You can’t cheat leadership – make sure you prepare well and practice lots.  The reason there are so many leadership books is because no-one has figured it all out yet! Stick to your principles – consider your ‘rocks’ that you are not prepared to move."

Lucy WilliamsLucy gave more of an insight into the opportunities of the relocation of HSBC’s ringfenced bank to Birmingham.  ‘Just like our new head office, HSBC UK is entirely new from the ground up.  Which puts us in the unique position of being able to build an inclusive and diverse organisation which reflects the UK population.  We’re introducing mentoring and training programmes alongside name-blind CVs in order to attract the very best candidates – regardless of gender or race’.

A Trustee of the Institute of Business Ethics, Lucy is passionate about diversity and ethics in the workplace.  She shared a statistic that, on average, the UK FTSE 100 banks are made up of only 21 percent women, a figure which she’d like to see significantly increase in the future.  Lucy’s advice was to find an organisation that shares your values.  And seek to find a Manager who will give you ‘wings’.

Guests gather after the lectureLucy explained that it is important to lead by example.  She recently made the challenging decision to move her family, including three young children, to Birmingham from Kent, to show her commitment to the HSBC’s move to the Midlands.  Lucy said ‘the fact that I relocated to Birmingham allowed me to have authentic conversations with my team about their potential move’.  And it seems to have proved successful, with all but one of her senior team members choosing to relocate to Birmingham.  However, Lucy also outlined the need for HSBC to attract and recruit local talent ‘we will require about 1400 talented new staff across the business and we are planning to establish a graduate scheme with an intake of between ten and twenty graduates per year for the next five years’.

Below: Paul and Lucy speak about their career, their experiences of the University and of leadership and offer advice to recent graduates.

About the Distinguished Leaders Series

Launched in 2012 by the Birmingham Business School Alumni Relations team, the Distinguished Leaders Series, brings high profile speakers from a range of industries across the world onto campus to reflect on their personal journey and discuss leadership issues that are close to their heart.