By Cathie Ericson
A network is the key to a successful career, says Barclays’ Julianne Thomas.
Despite her rapid rise in the company, she says she wishes she’d done a better job of building her network more thoughtfully from the beginning — both internally and externally, as well as leveraging the two together.
Three Decades of Interesting Roles, One Firm
Nevertheless, Thomas was able to build her stellar career through continuously impressing those with whom she worked over the years. She is, as she puts it, “True Blue Barclays through and through,” having been with the firm 36 years. She began her rise in Chicago, where she remembers fondly her first encounter with a computer system in the business world, which she says thrilled her beyond measure. “I stuck to people like glue until I learned the system and its reporting,” she says.
Shortly after she moved to New York where she has held a variety of roles in different businesses throughout the organization, as everything from a foreign exchange clerk to a business manager and now chief of staff. Her favorite thing about change is passing the spirit of good stewardship and working to leave things better than when she came.
She credits this adaptability as the professional achievement she is most proud of so far. “Whenever I have been offered a new, exciting opportunity, I have jumped in with both feet and let the chips fall where they may,” she says. “Although I’ve been successful, like anyone I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’ve learned as I went along and moved those lessons into the next role, while helping those behind me so they can avoid the pitfalls if possible.”
Thomas, now a director at the firm, advises young professionals to keep an open mind and avoid placing limitations on themselves or allowing others to. “Believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to; then find your niche and go for it,” she says, adding that often you don’t know what’s possible in a given industry – all the facets and niches you can find – until you start networking and talking to people and learning more about the field. “As we move through our career, we find out what’s possible and then we have to be willing to accept the challenge.”
Diversity Taking Center Stage
Recently she has noticed that the efforts around the diversity issue are receiving even more notice than ever before, as people increasingly understand that talent can come from anywhere. “Any firm or individual who wants to be successful needs to broaden their horizons in their search for talent,” she believes.
She finds it’s important for successful women to keep moving forward, and realizing that they have an impact and are making changes — whether those advances are immediately visible or not — and then remember the importance of reaching back to bring the younger women along on the journey.
Among the many initiatives that she supports internally is the UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign, of which Barclays is one of 10 Corporate Impact Champions and the only financial services firm represented. The campaign is particularly unique because it aims to drive gender equality by involving men in the conversation.
Thomas’ personal life reflects the values she brings to the workplace. Quick to note that she is very spiritually grounded, Thomas considers family her top priority, including her 27-year-old son and her parents who are in their 80s, whom she visits three or four times a year. In addition to her love of travel, she is a jazz music aficionado.