Meet London based BBHer Gary Browne, a Program Manager in our Investor Services organization, and hear about his time with BBH, career path and leadership learnings.
Tell us about your career to date.
I started my financial services career in offshore fund management institutions on the Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish Sea off the British coast, where I grew up. Then 26 years ago I moved to London for a role in BBH. During my time at the Firm, I’ve held several roles, all focused on delivering outcomes for our clients. I started in Custody CSG, before moving to a client service role within Infomediary in its early years. This balance of client service and technology led me to Change Management, initially providing client technology management for European clients, including our first BBH Direct client, and now as a Program Manager. I have oversight of a global team of Project Managers and Business Analysts responsible for the execution of projects sponsored by our Global Tax Services and the Global Trustee & Depository Function teams.
What do you enjoy about what you do?
Being involved in client service for new products and new clients can be challenging and sometimes a bit chaotic, but these are the types of opportunities where you can learn the most. I also really enjoy the people I work with; the diverse nature of the global BBH team is a great strength. I’ve been very fortunate to work with great people who bring all sorts of different views and thinking to the table. That’s been invaluable. Within my immediate team, it’s the sense of camaraderie and togetherness that I appreciate. We make things happen and we look out for each other, which is amazing to see.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’d describe my leadership style as centered on trust and collaboration. I rely on my team to perform their roles, update me when necessary and escalate at the right time so we can work together to resolve challenges. I’m always evolving and growing as a leader, and I’m adaptable in my approach depending on my team member’s needs. That agility seems to work.
My job often requires me to lead multiple stakeholders through tough decisions and problem solving. It’s important to have all the facts and understand the impacts. It’s also important to collaborate and be open to new ideas to get a quality outcome. As a manager, there have been times when an outcome reached wouldn’t have been my first path but listening to and taking into consideration the views of others help me get to the right business decision.
What’s challenged you as a leader?
My biggest personal challenge was stepping up to be a co-chair of our Pride network. When the network launched in 2012, societal attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community were changing, but for many of us being fully ‘out’ in the workplace still felt uncomfortable. Initially I’d reached out simply to connect with others in my community, but we soon began to realize that without a global vision, the network would not be there to support all BBHers.
The visibility that came with taking on this leadership role felt quite daunting. My fear of being judged for who I am was something I had to overcome. The support I got from colleagues and senior management helped with that and I learned a few lessons along the way:
- Being authentic makes me a better leader and enables me to form more trusting and productive relationships
- Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is sometimes necessary to grow
- Visibility is so important -- leadership that represents the diverse nature of our workforce is essential.
I was honored to be recognized in the LGBT Project 1000 Role Models campaign aimed at putting a spotlight on LGBTQ+ and supportive Allies in the financial service industry. I am proud of that achievement and the role I’ve played in growing the BBH network in Europe. We’ve done such amazing work to break down barriers, bring communities together and celebrate our differences.
What advice would you give someone looking to step into leadership?
Be brave and do it! Senior people around you will want you to succeed and will be prepared to help - listen to their advice. You will likely make a mistake or two along the way and that’s okay. Be open to the feedback you receive and learn from it. Lastly, always remember you don’t have to be in a formal management position to show leadership -- opportunities to lead are everywhere.