Edel Owen, Head of Architecture (Retail Banking)
I joined Barclays Radbroke in ‘91 on the Graduate Scheme and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve always found opportunities for career progression. Currently, I head up Architecture at the Retail Bank and handle new development in Open Banking. I’ve been involved in large, complex projects such as absorbing the Woolwich and have been fortunate in winning Best IT team, among other awards.
As far back as 1991, Barclays were saying that they would help people structure their career to take account of things like maternity leave and childcare. It’s always been a genuinely forward-thinking organisation. I thought so then and I still believe it 27 years later.
What do you need to do to climb at Barclays?
My team works with either the business or the technology side. But I don’t necessarily look for tech people when I’m recruiting. I need logical people who have an enquiring mind and a level of resilience. The things you learn in tech can change. When I joined, the internet didn’t exist on the scale it does now. It’s less about what you know, and more about your ability to adapt, ask intelligent questions and be resilient and ready for change. Sometimes people can concentrate too much on tech development and not enough on the softer skills. For example, it’s important that I think from a leadership perspective. I’m happy for people to go on the latest tech course in AI or disruptive technologies, but I need to assess whether they also have the confidence and negotiating skills to influence strategic thinking. What I try to do with my team is build that capability.
How has your success affected your home life?
When I had my children, I started to work dynamic hours, which has just come to an end now that my eldest has gone to university. So I’ve managed to get to director level while still having a dynamic working arrangement. There are six senior women in my team. Some of them wanted to reduce their hours when their husbands retired, but others wanted to make the most of the fact that their children have left home – they see it as an opportunity to put their foot down and get as much out of their career as possible. You can do all that at any age here, which is possibly why women at Barclays choose to stay with us. Of course, some men in my team also opt for dynamic hours. Many of my team members either do a compressed week or leave early because they’re the main carer for the family.