Interviews

Citi's Kathy Walsh on the 'Citi Succeed' programme

  • Banking professionals go back to school for ‘Citi Succeed’ programme

    Young people across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from a major new initiative designed to highlight the exciting career opportunities available within the local banking sector.

    The ‘Citi Succeed’ programme - which has launched in September 2018  - will see Citi professionals returning to their former schools to share personal experiences on how they came to work at Citi, what qualifications they pursued and how their experience at school enabled them to enter a career in the financial sector.

    Over the coming months, more than 100 specially trained Citi ’volunteer alumni’ from across the organisation will be engaging with Year 13 pupils in 57 schools across the region. Then in February and June of next year, up to 100 pupils will be invited to join Citi for two separate weeks of work experience.  

    Leading the programme is Kathy Walsh, who heads up the private banking team at Citi. The bank - on board as a strategic partner for this year’s Big Data Belfast conference on Thursday October 18 - has now been operating in Belfast for 13 years and employs more than 2,700 people in corporate banking, IT, operations, legal, human resources, and compliance.  

    Kathy says this is a unique opportunity for young people “to hear the personal experiences of someone with whom they already have a connection and can identify with”.

    “This is all about giving our young people real advantage and building up the pipeline of talent for tomorrow’s high-tech economy. We want to help our pupils to understand how this individual got from their classroom to work at Citi and the different paths they’ve taken”, she says.

    Kathy, who grew up in Belfast, has enjoyed a successful investment banking career in many locations across the globe.

    “When I was growing up it would have been quite rare to meet anybody from home with these experiences. That’s why I’m determined to ensure that as many young people get the opportunity to go to Citi and have a springboard into the global world of finance and all the tremendous experiences and careers that this can lead to,” she says.

    In the first year, the team will be working on forming relationships with as many schools as possible.

    “We are always welcoming and want to hear from teachers as to how we can support their pupils. Where we can facilitate sessions and add value, we’ll do it, and we’re very happy to engage with any schools interested in participating,” she says.

    In addition to ‘Citi Succeed’, Kathy also lectures on Queen’s University’s BSc in Finance and has also been visiting various A Level and GCSE classes to teach economics.

    “We have such a fantastic cohort of kids here and we need to sing their praises more often. They consistently outperform their equivalents across the rest of the UK in examinations and we really ought to shout about them more,” she says.

    Next year’s work placements will see pupils involved in IT as well as banking and finance teams.

    “The plan is to give participants a really good comprehensive introduction into what it is we actually do and see if that's something that they would be interested in. This will also provide benefits for the young person in terms of work experience and additional valuable experience to include in their UCAS forms,” she says.

    In terms of sourcing the talent of tomorrow, Citi’s message to pupils is that the bank is looking at the full spectrum of talent in the marketplace.

    “We're not just looking at people from a traditional academic background,” says Kathy. “When people look at investment banking, they immediately assume they know which academic qualifications we’re looking for. In fact, there are many different routes into a career at Citi. We’re not necessarily looking for university degrees and we are open minded.” 

    For further information about ‘Citi Succeed’, please email: Citi UK Citi Succeed Schools. For further information about Big Data Belfast and to book tickets, log on to http://www.bigdatabelfast.com/.

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