Fiona Robson, head of islands GEM delivery for Lloyds Bank International, tells Emily Moore how she relishes the opportunity to develop new skills as she takes on different roles in her career
CUSTOMER satisfaction, productivity and the need to adapt and move with the times are aspects fundamental to the success of any organisation.
They are also all areas on which Fiona Robson, head of islands GEM delivery for Lloyds Bank International, has focused in the many ‘problem-solving’ roles she has held during her 19-year career with the organisation.
Having studied law at university, Fiona soon realised that a legal career was not for her and, as she considered her options and visited a relative who lived in Jersey, she quickly discovered the extent of the Island’s finance industry.
‘I realised that many of the aspects I’d covered in my degree were also relevant to financial services and, in particular, the trust sector, so I moved to the Island and spent my first 18 months here working for a private trust company,’ she explained.
After moving from there to Lloyds Trust Company, Fiona spent around five years in the sector before starting to think about how she wanted her career to develop.
‘The question was whether I wanted to become an expert in trust and follow that quite narrow linear path or whether I wanted to broaden my skillset and expertise,’ she reflected. ‘After some consideration, I decided on the latter and, with Lloyds offering such a diverse range of career options, I have been able to spend time in several different departments.’
During that time, Fiona has gained an in-depth understanding both of Lloyds and of the people and processes within the organisation, having worked as an executive assistant, in internal communications and in retail banking before moving to her current role. This experience equipped her well to oversee the rollout of the bank’s new online payment platform for financial-services clients.
‘Each role has been very different and that has been a deliberate choice, as I like to keep challenging myself and learning something new,’ she smiled. ‘Along the way, I have learnt how to construct meaningful conversations, centralise activity in a way which the people affected get behind and ensure that products are not only compliant but that they deliver the services our customers want.
‘Quite often, there have been things that needed fixing, or which could have been done better, so I have gone in to drive that change. Then, once the department or process is in good shape, I’m ready for my next challenge. Perhaps I just like problems,’ she laughed.
While known as something of a problem-solver both at work and among her family and friends, Fiona says much of her motivation comes from ‘not wanting to stagnate’.
In pursuit of that goal, she has not only performed several different roles within Lloyds but has also joined the board of Black Horse Offshore – a position she obtained after completing the Institute of Directors diploma – and the bank’s Islands’ Executive Committee, where she has become the sponsor for diversity and inclusion.
‘When you consider inclusivity, there are areas, such as Pride, LGBTQ+ and race, where we have been really good,’ she reflected. ‘However, I recognise that diversity and inclusion is far broader than that and, as a result, the first thing I did after taking up the role was hold some open-door sessions so that colleagues could feed back on how inclusive they felt the business was.
‘While the feedback was largely positive, it reinforced my view that there is still work to do, particularly when it comes to accessibility for people with both seen and unseen disabilities. We are also focusing on subjects such as the menopause and family matters, as we recognise that people’s work-life balances are changing. One key area we’re looking at is how we support fathers during the early years of their children’s lives, and we’re also focused on how representative the organisation is of the customers and communities it serves.’
As well as recognising the bank’s commitment to inclusivity, Fiona says that Lloyds fosters a very open culture with opportunities for people to progress – as she has demonstrated – in a variety of roles.
‘My latest role has been very much focused around change and on implementing the Lloyds Bank GEM® programme to deliver cash-management solutions to financial-services clients,’ she said. ‘The platform has existed within Lloyds Bank Plc for a few years now, and we realised that it was ideal for our trust and corporate-service clients in the islands, who have to process a high volume of high-value payments.
‘GEM allows them to manage their payments at a time and in a way which suits them. It is hugely exciting for the team because it is the first time that an investment of this nature has been seen in the islands’ commercial department. Now that it is live, our relationship teams are demonstrating it to potential clients and the feedback has been really positive.’
Having spent two years bringing the project to fruition, it is perhaps unsurprising that Fiona’s thoughts are already starting to move in a new direction.
‘I’m looking for my next challenge, the next thing which will enable me to develop new skills and grow,’ she admitted with a laugh. ‘With technology, the world of work and career paths constantly changing, I believe that, to stay relevant and to add value, you have to continue on that learning journey.
‘That doesn’t mean that everyone should be striving to become the next chief executive but I do think you have to recognise that constant change and adapt to it.’