Sian McIntyre, then and now.


Letter to My Younger Self: Sian McIntyre

14 October 2021

In a new series of letters from the bank’s leaders to their younger selves, Barclays’ Sian McIntyre reflects on the experiences that have shaped her, how she learned to ignore others’ limiting perceptions – and why she thinks belonging “nowhere yet everywhere” is a gift. 

Dear Sian,

I know that arriving in the UK at the age of eight made you start to realise that you are different. You are going to have to reconcile two very different, but equally wonderful cultures – Nigerian and Welsh. You will soon become the diplomat in the family!

Sadly, for many, because of your background, you will not be ‘enough’. Never let your ambition be clipped by the limiting perception others have of you. Use their lack of belief in you to fuel you and make you work twice as hard. Hard work, grit and determination will be by far the biggest determinants of your success. Sometimes losing is a blessing.


Sian stands beside her mother.

Sian with her mother, Valarie Ladipo, at home in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1978.

Sian is held by her father.

Sian and her father, Professor O A Ladipo.

While your father would rather you got the grades to study medicine, accounting, engineering or law at a prestigious university, his disappointment will be short-lived. Because despite your A-level results, you will qualify as a lawyer at a top law firm, much to the surprise of your teachers! And you will go on to have a career in banking that you can’t even imagine right now.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ll almost lose your brother in a car crash. Your willingness to constructively challenge doctors and your unstinting belief that he will survive will change the course of his treatment. And he will survive.

You will have three wonderful daughters: the most important gift that life will give you. They’ll be your greatest teachers, helping you understand the importance of empathy, patience, perspective – and above all, the need to listen more. All three of your children will be dyslexic and in learning about neurodiversity you will one day be able to reconcile why you found your studies so hard. And you’ll recognise the superpowers that dyslexia has given you.

Six-year-old Sian sits on a large armchair.

At home in Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1981. 

You will belong nowhere yet everywhere: this is the gift of diversity. It will make you adaptable, resilient and curious about the unfamiliar.

You will belong nowhere yet everywhere: this is the gift of diversity. It will make you adaptable, resilient and curious about the unfamiliar. There will come a time when the pace of change will require this skill in abundance. Your courage to do something different in the pursuit of a better outcome will be critical when trying to change the status quo. Your unqualified belief in an outcome, combined with your diplomatic skills and restless curiosity will be key in your contribution to major business decisions in one of the biggest banks in the UK. Get ready to get comfortable with the uncomfortable!

Everything you achieve in your professional career will be because of the people you work with. Pay it forward in abundance. Your role will be to create the environment in which they flourish – then get the hell out of the way!

I don’t know where your career will ultimately take you but know that you’ll grow every step of the way, from good and bad experiences, and you’ll look back and be proud of what you achieved. You’ll be grateful for the many people you have had the privilege to work with and the positive footprint you’ll leave on the communities you serve.

Let purpose and values always guide you,

Sian poses for a school photo.

10-year-old Sian attending primary school in South Wales, UK.