James - Business Partner Manager (HTS Management Alumni)
When asked to do a blog entry, I thought it was a great idea, my chance to speak to the masses (or the few who might actually read it!). I tried writing a ‘day in the life’ style blog, but there’s only so much you want to read about meetings and business cases. Instead I’ve tried to give my perspective on one of the bigger concepts that affect graduates at work – the organisation itself.
As you can imagine, an organisation the size of HSBC appears, at first, hugely complex; myriad departments with grandiose titles, Strategy this, Executive that, Management the other. It can be a scary realisation; this organisation is huge. In reality though, everyone is here to do a job, from Chief Executive to Project Manager, we are all part of the same community. This organisation is still huge, but now I see opportunity.
Looking back, I remember the end of my first day in my first placement, my head was swimming with the inevitable overload of straplines, buzz words, and slogans. There is a vast array of watchwords, sayings and acronyms used every single day.
Having worked in a couple of different companies prior to HSBC, I found it interesting how each individual organisation has these myriad of mottos. But where do they come from?
Some are driven by centralised communication campaigns, some by local ideas, some by the endorsement of senior management and some grow organically with the influence of the community in which organisations operate.
It’s important to get to grips with the language of a company; it is essentially the key to understanding what’s going on around you.
Fundamentally though, sayings are just a part of an organisation’s culture. Culture in a business is derived from it’s history, it’s current or past leaders, it’s wider environment and the stories, myths and legends that perpetuate from generation to generation.
One of the biggest learning points I have taken on the journey through the grad programme is just how powerful culture can be. Culture influences, directly or indirectly, an organisation’s success (or otherwise). A culture of reckless risk taking and a lack of control will inevitably lead to failure. A culture of accountability and diligence is more likely to deliver long term success.
In HSBC culture is no less important. It takes some time to understand it, but it can be a real positive force. As a graduate, to immerse yourself in the culture is to become part of it. Becoming part of an organisation’s culture opens it’s potential up to you.
But does that mean becoming Mr or Mrs Corporate?
Simply, no. The most refreshing thing about working for HSBC over the last few years is how we have moved to a value-led organisation. Our key goal, and one that has reduced all other straplines and slogans to mere sideshows, is to lead with courageous integrity. We are asked to lead with courageous integrity for our customers, our colleagues and our shareholders. What does that really mean? For me it is to trust my own principles and do what I think is right, like we all do everyday in our personal lives.
So, it’s important to understand how a company works; it’s structure, it’s language, it’s culture. But in reality, if you bring your whole person to work, and be true to your own principles, that will be the true measure of success.