Power 100: TSB's Helen Rose on how she became one of the most senior women in UK retail banking

 
Isabelle Werffeli
Helen Rose has been chief operating officer at TSB since 2011 (Source: TSB)

The chief operating officer of TSB, Helen Rose is one of the most senior women in the UK's retail banking sector.

Here, she talks overcoming impostor syndrome, gender parities, and which qualities helped her reach the top.

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What went through your head when you accepted your job?

I experienced the classic trap women sometimes fall into - thinking they don’t have the qualifications or skills to do the job. This progressed to thinking how disappointed I would be if I didn’t take the role and I would be annoyed if I didn’t grasp this opportunity and if I let someone else take it.

Because I was aware I was falling into these stereotypical traps I was able to rationalise it. Once you realise you can do it you start thinking about how you can build a great team around you so you can make a success of it.

Do you have any other tips for overcoming impostor syndrome?

I think it’s really common among high achievers. High achievers often question themselves.

It’s quite easy to think there are other people who are better qualified - that’s why it’s really important to have a network around you.

One of the things I’ve learned is you will never be the expert at everything, so firstly, you need to build that strong team around you but secondly, it’s also really important that you have a strong network. Senior jobs don’t come with an instruction manual so to build up your skills you need to talk to experts in the field and people who have done something similar.

Will we see complete professional gender equality in our lifetime?

Yes. A number of women in my generation were reluctant to get involved in the gender equality debate. I think this is partly because you’ll find few professional women who ask for special favours - but a number of us knew it wouldn’t get solved by itself.

What’s your advice to those trying to reach your level?

I’ve always instinctively tried to keep my professional experience quite broad. Try and change your role every couple of years.

I also try to say yes. I always try to be open to opportunities. “Say yes and work out how after” has always been my moto.

Finally, I’ve always wanted to work for talented people and with talented people. The people you work with should challenge you.

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