Alexandra Fogal is Relationship Director at Barclays Corporate Banking in Yorkshire. Her role covers larger corporates turning over £20m+ and she has a particular focus on manufacturing companies in Yorkshire. Alex has over 14 years’ experience in banking and corporate relationship management.
“…Manufacturing is historically male dominated, but I see this changing and evolving all the time. I am seeing more diversity across manufacturing boards than ever before…”
Alexandra, please can you tell us about your career to date and what made to you want to work in banking?
I always loved business studies at school and college and dreamed of running my own business one day. At the time of studies I was doing my dancing qualifications with the aim to become either a fully qualified dance teacher with my own school or professional dancer. I decided to venture down the university route to ensure I had a fall-back plan, taking a business studies degree. After university, I applied to three graduate programmes and loved the Barclays one. Here I am as a director 12 years on.
The graduate programme in corporate banking was set up to provide you with a platform to learn and develop through the various roles in corporate banking. My career has seen me go from client servicing, portfolio management, credit, risk, business development, working with our PLC clients and for the last seven years running my own portfolio of clients from mid corporate size to now running the Yorkshire manufacturing portfolio in larger corporate. I also help support our northern manufacturing board, as well as the food and drink sector.
What does your role at Barclays involve on a day to day basis?
Every day is different, which I really like. In essence it is client-led so whatever my client base or prospective clients require drives my activity. I am out on factory floors, understanding the products, innovation and advanced manufacturing that is driving the sector from our great Yorkshire businesses.
I can be helping businesses or business owners with everyday business activity, expansions, growth overseas (importing or exporting) or funding acquisitions. The activity is led by what my clients want to achieve. A big part is relationships and understanding what people want. I try and help facilitate this activity by hosting a variety of industry led events where we can learn and share best practice from one another. As well as this I also lead our Women in Business programme in Yorkshire.
You have a particular focus on manufacturing clients. This is traditionally a male dominated sector. Why is better gender balance a good thing?
Manufacturing is historically male dominated, but I see this changing and evolving all the time. I am seeing more diversity across manufacturing boards than ever before. I believe the work that is been done across schools, colleges and universities is also helping changing the view to make manufacturing more attractive and a sector / industry that has great opportunities.
For me personally, gender balance is about having the best person for the job. A quality board with diversity across every measure surely should be the direction of travel businesses want to go in.
You set up the Yorkshire Women in Business Awards yourself. Please can you tell us about this?
I felt there was a gap in the industry for an award programme such as this. I had been going to other networking events across the region and couldn’t find anything that brought together senior leaders from across the community. I really want to create a network for everyone to be party to.
In the UK, there does need to be more work and emphasis put onto women in business at all levels and I feel that this awards programme and other connected events we run help towards this. It is about bringing people and businesses together to share best practice, values and hopefully drive activity across the Yorkshire community.
What makes your awards different to the other awards out there?
The awards are completely independent and open to clients and non-clients across the multi-category award scheme, which is focused on women and businesses. This is about recognising women or businesses that have made a real difference in business over the past 12 months.
The essence of these awards is to discover and reward exceptional women and businesses that, through leadership, entrepreneurialism, mentoring skills, and / or ideas stand out from their peers. We rarely get to hear from successful businesses so this platform gives people the opportunity to share this.
We believe your region is a national trailblazer in this space for Barclays. Please can you tell us more?
Yorkshire is a real community and driving the way across a number of different initiatives. There is a real desire amongst a lot of communities and businesses to make a difference and improve the way we do business for years to come.
We are delighted to be holding the Women in Business Awards in Manchester for the first year, which will mirror the Yorkshire awards. The details will be announced shortly.
When do the nominations open and what is the judging process?
Nominations are now open following our Women in Business launch event on International Women’s Day – 8th March 2017. The online platform will close on Wednesday 26th April 2017. The independent judging panel will then meet to deliberate the nominations in early May.
The shortlist will then be revealed and invited to the Awards Lunch on Friday 23rd June 2017 at the beautiful Bowcliffe Hall in Wetherby. We are asking for self-nomination, with only for 250 words to support your nomination, so there’s absolutely nothing to lose by applying. Businesswomen of Yorkshire, what are you waiting for?