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An understanding of the financial services sector both domestically and internationally is an advantage for anyone looking to enter the financial services market, while continuous development has also helped Rachel Howard to become relationship manager with Barclays Bank Ireland plc.
What has been your career path to date?
I started my career with Barclays Bank PLC in Leeds in 1995. I worked in the Leeds head office initially and then in a number of branches as a cashier. In 1996 I moved back to Ireland to work in Barclays Dublin, which was a big change from the retail sector to corporate banking. I worked in various roles in customer services, customer operations, money desk and payments and as head of sales support. Following the incorporation of Barclays Bank Ireland PLC in 2005 and the expansion of the sales team, I was promoted to relationship director with responsibility for the financial services portfolio.

What is your educational background?
I was educated in Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet, Co. Mayo and later obtained a BA in Business Studies from Portobello College, Dublin.

Are your peers from similar backgrounds?
Yes, many of my colleagues have previously worked with other financial institutions or accountancy firms.

Have you worked abroad?
If so where and what did you do? Would you do so again?
Yes, I started my career abroad in the UK, working in the Leeds head office of Barclays. I am always open to new challenges in new environments.

How would you compare career prospects internationally to those in Ireland?
I think Ireland offers fantastic career prospects - particularly in the financial services sector with so many international banks now having a presence here. It is well known that many of the organisations establishing themselves in Ireland are doing so because of the high calibre nature of our highly educated workforce that is readily available, especially to financial services firms. This in turn is creating great career opportunities in Ireland.

Have you undertaken any additional professional training since assuming your current role?
Yes - I have undertaken many professional courses throughout my career including the Barclays corporate finance training at the London Business School. I also completed my business studies degree as a part-time evening student, while working in Barclays - this was very challenging; however the support I received from Barclays was fantastic.

What skills/aptitude would you identify as being key/beneficial to a career in your sector?
An understanding of the financial services sector both domestically and internationally is an advantage – it gives you a broad understanding of the market and helps to have meaningful discussions with customers. Relationship skills are also very important for any people looking to enter this area. People do business with people.

What aspects of the job do you like most?
Customer interaction. I love meeting with customers and finding ways to help them achieve their business objectives.

What aspects of the job do you like least?
Emails - how did we communicate before email?!

What advice would you give to others who might like a career in your sector?
Go for it - this is a very exciting and dynamic sector with fantastic opportunities. Continuous development - there is always more to learn.

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