Rachel Century

  • Head of Retail Banking
  • BA Italian Studies and Commerce, 2003

Paul Szumilewicz graduated in 2003 with a degree in Italian Studies and Commerce. He is now working as the Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management for HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, Lebanon – based in Beirut.

What was the best thing about your degree?

"Studying Italian and commerce at Birmingham gave me the opportunity to study for a year in Verona, Italy at the Università degli studi di Verona. This really opened my mind to different cultures, experiences and languages and was ultimately the drive in my ambition to work for a global organisation!"

How did studying at Birmingham help you in your career?

"My time at University of Birmingham shaped and moulded my character, desire and thirst to experience a variety of societies internationally. I have developed so much professionally and personally through these opportunities, and continue to do so every day. You get used to being outside of your comfort zone … which is the best place to be as that is where you learn the most!"

How did you get to where you are today?

"After graduation, I worked for Lloyds Banking Group in places like Dubai and Hong Kong before taking up my role with HSBC, where I had my first placement in New York. I now oversee HSBC Retail and Wealth Banking, in Lebanon and also have staff in Saudi Arabia and Qatar."

What advice would you give to current students?

"The advice that I would give to any student studying Italian in a multicultural city like Birmingham is to get as much as you can out of your time there. The year abroad is really challenging, but you’ll grow as a person, if you throw yourself into the opportunity and culture as well as developing your language skills immensely. You’ll never get the time back, so grab every opportunity whilst you’re out there!"