Head of HSBC Commercial Banking talks to students

Carol Bagnald , Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC London, came to the university as part of the SEE Talks; a student run organisation to bring speakers to the university. BSci Maths and Finance student Alex Crosby was there…

Carol was the second speaker in the SEETalks series, and came with the aim of discussing the changing nature of business relating to dynamical shifts in the female economy. However, her talk became much more than that –  a discussion on corporate ethics and internal structures, the youth economy and which industries will be growing the fastest.

Carol raised some interesting examples of the shifting dynamics of business. Women are the key purchasers in the automobile industry, surprisingly. From our own research, we already knew the example of Harley Davidson, where 25 per cent of sales are now to women – and Harley have responded by manufacturing more ergonomic seats. This certainly is in contrast to the failed DELL products aimed at women –  it just shows making a laptop pink won’t sell it to women!

Businesses need to really understand their customers – and Carol argues the only way to do this is to change a business internally first. Carol raised the interesting example of Dulux, who teamed with a well-known cosmetic brand, in order to incorporate changing dynamics into their workforce and to better understand their customer base, which is predominantly female. This has been a great success.

Carol stated that whilst the male work force is decreasing by 10 per cent, the female is increasing by 7 per cent. But more importantly, there are more female than male millionaires in the youngest age brackets. In fact, In 40 years, all age brackets will have more female millionaires. But she asked the pertinent question; is the rise of female wealth created within existing businesses, or are they the creators of their own businesses? It would be interesting to have further research into this, has industry and the organisation of businesses aptly adapted to the rise of female workers – or are women generating their own wealth in new start-ups instead?

It would have been interesting to have more discussion regarding how to develop business to accommodate dynamic changes – how should businesses respond, what has worked in the past, and what businesses should look out for to be ahead of the next trend. This would have been particularly useful for the entrepreneurs in the room.

Carol gave us some insight into the other new trends – namely the youth economy. Industry must be aware of how the next generation are changing industry. There will be more millionaires under 30 than in all other age categories combined, and so both how businesses are run, and who the customers are is going to change dramatically.

Carol gave some insightful advice about how to ‘climb the ladder of success’ easier –  get involved earlier as junior board members –  utilise your youth, energy and new perspectives to drive a change in the workforce. Ultimately, Carol left us with an extremely positive message for all students; female and male alike.

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