HSBC’s Diane Reyes, who has held many roles within the transaction banking industry over the past 20 years, believes that the secret to her success has been due to execution, commitment and reputation. Once you have proved yourself on the first two, the third follows.
Diane S. Reyes
Global Head of Payments and Cash Management
Diane Reyes considers herself a career transaction banker. After college, she made a concerted decision to get an MBA that would enable her to get into a more “career-oriented role.” Before completing her MBA, she started looking around at firms in the Pittsburgh area and was impressed with Mellon Bank’s reputation in the cash management field.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to apply some of what I had learned in the MBA programme. It was a combination of being in the right city, with Mellon having a great reputation and then being in the right business programme.”
Reyes has been in transaction banking for over 20 years, moving to J.P. Morgan and Citi before joining HSBC about 18 months ago. She moved from product management roles to running the global sales team at Citi. Her job spec has also changed through the years. She now has a much more global role, which she finds very exciting and challenging. At HSBC, Reyes spends a lot of time managing her team of globally based staff. “We’ve spent a lot of time on how we are positioning ourselves for success in the current and expected future environment, working with our clients and offering our global proposition.”
What is your career-defining moment?
I’ve had a number during my 20 years in transaction banking, but one that really sticks out was winning a significant, landmark mandate. The deal had taken almost three years to come to fruition and at that time was the largest of its kind. It really confirmed my belief that if you’re persistent, if you have the vision, if you stick with it and continue despite the hurdles put in your way, then you really can be a change agent and deliver a company-altering proposition. That deal resulted in hundreds of people being hired and helped our business operate on a larger scale. I believe this single experience positioned me very well for the roles I have since had.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
I would say my ability to execute, which requires persistence, determination and an absolute focus on effective communication. Trust and reputation are also attributes which I value tremendously and I call upon these frequently in my current role, whether I am dealing with my executives, management team, business partners or, importantly, clients. Over the years I have developed a reputation for delivering on my commitments, this is something that is very important to me.
Which women in business most inspire you and why?
Rather than identify specific women by name I would identify particular traits I find inspiring, in both men and women. I like managers who are not afraid to voice their support – people who are willing to take a risk on another individual by sponsoring or mentoring them. I am a big champion of this as I’ve seen women in the past dissuaded from pursuing their careers through a lack of support. I think men seem to be doing a pretty good job on this front – going out on a limb for people coming up through the company – and I would like to see women do more.
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing just now?
Banking in general and transaction banking, particularly in the cash management arena, are experiencing profound changes, within both the industry and the global economy. Our major challenge is to maximise opportunities given the economic trends. It’s about bringing our capabilities to the table when our clients need them and delivering our solutions in a proper and sustainable way. We need to ensure we work with clients to identify their needs, and to deliver real benefits.
What couldn’t you manage without?
I would say ‘support’, and this comes in three key areas: Family support; management support; and an excellent talent base. I have four children, and as a mother you can’t really have the type of global job which requires you to be out of town a lot on business and have a family that doesn’t support your decision. The second line of support is the excellent management team here at HSBC – particularly my two senior executives as I have dual reporting lines and access to them, and their support, is critical. Third, is the talent base the Bank has. You need a world-class team in order to deliver the goods, particularly given the scale of our cash management business. So I would say family support, management support and top talent.
What is your next major objective?
I am just 18 months into my role here so I still have quite a bit I want to do. We need to substantially grow the business and do this in a sustainable and suitable manner for both the firm and our clients. I need to ensure we continue to remain relevant to our clients and the market. When I talk about remaining relevant I also mean we need to continue to innovate with a real focus on developing cash management solutions, such as electronic or mobile options.
What advice would you give to other women in treasury?
This is an excellent time, if I look at it from a corporate perspective, to be in treasury. A large part of the strength that women have is in their ability to deliver, to understand the subject matter, and the details of the business. In this day and age, treasury is an overall contributor to the firm, rather than a support function. In many ways it’s an ideal career path for women as treasurers who want to contribute to the bottom line and it plays to women’s skillset very much. Women can easily establish their contribution, for example, to the earnings per share for their firms. I would advise and counsel women who have an interest in the financial industry that this is such a great moment for them to be in treasury.
What are your views on mentoring?
I am very passionate about mentoring. If someone were to ask ‘where would you spend some of your non-specific day-to-day job hours?’ it would be on mentoring and sponsoring women and trying to see how much of an impact I can make in that regard. I was asked to sponsor an HSBC initiative called the Accelerated Career Progression Programme and it has exceeded my expectations. Its focus is on mid-level women and how we prepare them for the next step in their careers, where they can make a difference at the senior level. Mentoring and sponsorship are really critical to bringing women up in the firm, giving them the flexibility to make career shifts. It’s really incredibly important.
If you weren’t global head of payments and cash management what would you be?
I am very early in my role at HSBC and I am committed to getting the job done. That being said, the only other path that I have considered is a government role. When we think about regulators around the world and what they are facing right now, a lot of their future changes will require people with the type of background and experience in matters like systemic risk for example, that I and other colleagues in the banking industry have.
“In this day and age, treasury is an overall contributor to the firm, rather than a support function. In many ways it’s an ideal career path for women as treasurers who want to contribute to the bottom line and it plays to women’s skillset.”
A day in the life
A day in the life of Reyes entails spending a great deal of time supporting both external clients and customers. After this interview, Reyes was heading off to visit one of HSBC’s top ten clients in the US.
“They are in the middle of trying to decide whether they’re going to implement a new product solution, how they’re going to do it and with whom. So we’re going to have a discussion in a very unique fashion, actually, in what we call storyboard fashion as opposed to a traditional PowerPoint. I can help them in their decision, to talk through how the implementation could work.”
She also spends an equal amount of time internally with the relationship managers in HSBC’s global businesses that Payments and Cash Management supports – Global Banking and Markets, and Commercial Banking. The relationship managers in these segments work with clients ranging from multinationals to mid-size customers who are growing internationally. “I spend a lot of time, both with my colleagues and with their clients to ensure I’m meeting evolving new market needs, resolving client issues or developing new product solutions for clients.”
Reyes stresses that she does not do all of this personally, but supports when her team needs her, for example to provide input on major new product developments, or when HSBC needs to design global training programmes for its employees. “We have programme management meetings to monitor our progress on initiatives and product commercialisation. We colour code the progress of our reports to make sure we’re ready to deliver for our clients.”