Banking and Finance, 1981
Margaret shares how she is keen to engage both the London and Loughborough campuses in raising awareness of the different career opportunities in the international trade industry.
Academically I thrived at Loughborough and made several really good friends who have stayed important to me ever since, including ones I worked with on Rag. In recent years I have attended various alumni events and been really impressed by the facilities the university now boasts and the breath of accomplishments by students with a “can do” attitude from all over the world. In my day, no one would have even dreamt of climbing Mount Everest for Rag! There is a real infectious buzz to the place and I would like to make a contribution to keeping Loughborough ahead in the field of learning and to helping its students embark successfully in the world of work.
In returning to the UK, I believe there are real challenges ahead if the country is going to boost its exports of both goods and services, especially to places far and beyond the EU in an effort to reduce its chronic trade deficit. One reason I would like to use the opportunity to be on the Advisory Board would be to ascertain which Alumni have skills and experience in the various disciplines involved in international trade and especially exporting. I would like to reach out to the design, civil, mechanical and other engineers, commercial salesmen, project managers, credit controllers, logistics experts, insurance brokers and underwriters, contract lawyers, environmental, social and human rights experts, journalists and many others including financiers who have a role in international trade and create a network that can help Loughborough students. Between us we must have decades of credentials and pots of enthusiasm that could help Loughborough students from a range of academic disciplines prepare for a “Global Britain” and widen their eventual employment horizons.
Between us we could perhaps run a series of sessions on both campuses to raise awareness of careers in international trade? We could bring together round tables of Alumni (and local chambers of commerce?) on various themes to cast more light on the opportunities and fun out there for those students who want to explore horizons beyond the UK and benefit their home nation, (wherever that may be but hopefully we could at least attract a quorum of young Brits!) It would be critical to involve the recent alumni too who would be more naturally attuned to the aspirations of the current student population and their way of thinking when planning the themes of such sessions.
Last year I visited the Studio on campus and was wowed by a young inventor alumnus who attracts crowd funding for his inventions by way of Kickstarter. In effect he exports to tens of countries by that method thanks to the wonders of the internet. I learnt a lot from him but at the same time I felt he still appreciated some of the conventional tips for expansion that an oldie like me could suggest but were new ideas for him to chew. There is real entrepreneurial activity happening on campus and some of us could surely do our bit to help it be successful globally by mentoring or just brainstorming with the young Loughborough talent that the UK so needs!
After graduation in 81, I predictably joined the international division of the Midland Bank that had sponsored me at Loughborough. I received a valuable grounding in different aspects of international banking. However when the British bank sadly hit problems in the US I moved on before HSBC came and rescued them!
For most of the past 30 years I have enjoyed specializing in the area of trade and export finance based in the City (ABN AMRO and Societe Générale), Whitehall (UK Export Finance, the UK's export credit agency formerly known as ECGD) and Paris (Societe Générale and Commerzbank).
My typical day centres around requests from European capital equipment exporters and contractors who, in order to win an important overseas contract, need to find an international bank who can provide long term finance to their overseas buyer to fund the purchase. The latter will usually be in a developing country where local banks may not have the capacity to lend long term. The international bank in turn is likely to wish to have support from a relevant export credit agency in order to share the political and commercial risks in such an operation. Such deals have given me the opportunity to travel for negotiations to many markets off the normal beaten tourist track from Angola to Uzbekistan. I have been able to be involved in all sorts of industrial and infrastructure projects around the globe which have hopefully had a positive impact on local populations in developing economies. No two deals have been alike and putting together cross border financings involving different cultures in the world of geopolitics and sanctions means there is never a dull moment. Work can be fun and there has always been something new to learn. I also doubt if the breadth of technical, negotiating and inter-personal skills required will be replicated by a robot any time soon!
I am expecting to be transferred from Commerzbank Paris to their City office during the summer. I have certainly loved having had the opportunity to work again in the French market and to gain insight into how a German bank helps that impressive Mittelstand army of exporters to create a trade surplus.