“For me, it is never about numbers – it’s about people”
As a Relationship Director at Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank, Jyotsna Sekhri thrives on opportunities to collaborate with both clients and colleagues. She shares how she approaches her role, what makes her feel “at home” at work – and why having a good “sounding board” is key.
Jyotsna Sekhri couldn’t have imagined taking on a career in banking while studying English at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi, India. “Finance was never my forte,” she remembers. “My strength was with people – meeting them, getting to know them and working out how I could help them.”
But, after applying for roles in financial services after graduation, Jyotsna discovered it was an industry focused on “building relationships”, she says. “For me, it is never about numbers – it’s about client engagement.”
Jyotsna moved to London, UK, in 2006 to continue her career. She joined Barclays in 2013 when her now twelve-year-old daughter began nursery, after spending three years as “a stay-at-home mum”. Starting out as a branch community banker then manager in Southall, West London, she moved to Barclays Corporate and Investment Bank in 2016.
“Life completely changes after starting a family,” she reflects, “but with the right support it can be a comfortable journey. When I moved to the Corporate and Investment Bank, I hit a pot of gold with my amazing team. Support from my team and guidance from senior leadership has been key in my continuous learning and progression.”
Now a Relationship Director in the Financial Institutions Group, her clients include alternative finance and invoice financing firms, FX brokers and fintech companies. It’s a role that plays to Jyotsna’s strengths as a “people person”.
“I help manage clients’ business needs from A to Z,” she says. “I’m their first point of contact and the bridge between the client and Barclays’ product partners, along with other business verticals – such as Markets and Investment Bank.”
The job allows Jyotsna to showcase the values she’s held since her childhood in Jamshedpur. “My driving force has always been to be transparent, honest and passionate about what I do. People have to know that if something goes wrong, you’ll do everything you can to make it right,” she explains.
“It's about wanting to do more for the client – wanting to provide them with the best possible service, in the right manner and with the right intention. I'm very passionate about Barclays as an organisation and I really love and enjoy my work. Going the extra mile for clients and the bank has been my strength all along.”
Finding a sounding board
That passion has fed into Jyotsna’s involvement in the Asian Professionals Resource Group (APRG) and Barclays mentoring schemes – both of which, she says, help her feel “at home” at work.
The APRG, which is dedicated to supporting and developing the career progression of all Asian colleagues, runs events for both the internal group and the wider bank. “There are food contests, meditation sessions, festival celebrations and breaking barriers events, as well as lunches where senior leaders will share their career journeys,” she explains.
She’s particularly enthusiastic about the emphasis placed on mentoring and reverse mentoring within the Corporate and Investment Bank, where “everyone actively talks about it and is ready to mentor colleagues”.
“You can see with a fresh pair of eyes how to change and improve things,” she says. “If you don’t have a guide and a sounding board, it gets very difficult at times.” These conversations, she adds, are a crucial part of finding new strategies for success.
The opportunities to connect with other colleagues are something she clearly relishes. “If, for example, I wanted to learn something new, I could go and shadow another team or reach out to a senior leader and say, ‘Could I connect with you over a call or face to face, to get a little more understanding about your sector?’.”
This collaborative culture is reflected in redesign plans for the bank’s headquarters at Canary Wharf, she says. “It's going to be more vibrant, more open. It's all about people coming together, having a catch up, rather than working in silo.”
If she was mentoring her younger self, fresh out of university, what career advice would she give?
“Don’t hold yourself back. Often, we fear the worst when applying for a role or when we want to try something new,” she says.
“If you don’t take that leap of faith, you will never know. Try it out and don’t fear the consequences. The outcome of it may not be what you want, but it will teach you how to do things differently the next time around. It's an experience.”
Out of office
I unwind by… going for long walks and listen to music.
My perfect weekend… involves baking and cooking, including my favourite lamb biryani – I am definitely a foodie! Then going to the park and catching up with family and friends.
The book I’d recommend you read is… at the moment, Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch or The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. But I read books from different genres as well.