Career & Leadership Tips: Alison Parker, HSBC

Top career tips from Alison Parker. Alison Parker is a Managing Director, Client Network Banking within Global Commercial Banking at HSBC. As a global leader, Alison reveals her strategies for ensuring personal growth and how she develops strong, successful partnerships.

  • How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?

After working in the Procurement industry for over 20 years, I wanted to continue to work in an area that would excite me and leverage my skills, but would keep me challenged. I knew I enjoyed executing deals and meeting external contacts, so moving from Procurement into the Commercial Bank made sense for me, yet still provided me with an opportunity to develop and learn. I believe you gain a set of core skills over the years that can be applied to other disciplines, as long as you are prepared to move outside your comfort zone to continuously grow knowledge in other areas. I’ve always tried to position myself into roles that I enjoy and take advantage of my strengths.

  • Can you give us examples of any common stereotypes you come across as a successful female leader?

I’ve experienced many situations in my life where people have judged me incorrectly, from the university lecturer that believed women shouldn’t be studying engineering, to the employee who thought I was a personal assistant to the gentleman I sat next to in an open plan office, even though I was more senior to him. I think these types of stereotypical mistakes are reducing, as more women rise through the ranks in all industries and hopefully break down some of these stereotypes.

  • How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?

I am naturally a very positive person and very little gets me down in the grand scheme of things. I try to always view the bigger picture and therefore small obstacles can be tackled, as long as you can continue to work towards the long term goal and that doesn’t matter whether it is a personal goal or a business objective. I tell my team the same philosophy and work with them to overcome setbacks and obstacles together, so they feel supported.

  • What are the most useful resources that you would recommend to someone looking to gain a better perspective into becoming a better leader?

The best training course I ever attended was Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Influential People, which really resonated with me and I still use every day to structure my working day and career development. I also believe in building a strong network of confidants and using them to support you throughout your career. I’ve always had a few senior executives that I could reach out to for advice and guidance when I needed it most.

  • What are the most pressing challenges that leaders are facing today? And why?

I think in today’s environment of online profiles and instant information, it is really important to be genuine, live and breathe strong values and connect to your staff and colleagues. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to open up to people to show your personal side. After all we are all human and it is good for people to see that. It would be easy to communicate constantly over email, instant messages, LinkedIn, but nothing beats face to face meetings and where possible get out and connect to people and have a conversation, you learn so much more.

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