Tracy-Alero Doyle is the Global Head of Process Development, Group Insurance at HSBC. In this role, she is responsible for leading the team in delivering streamlining benefits, managing business change and ensuring the delivery of regulatory & compliance requirements.
You grew up in Nigeria, and have worked in the US, UK, and now in Hong Kong. What are the differences in terms of culture and how did they affect you?
Growing up in Nigeria, I embraced a culture that rewarded pro-active and assertive communications. This communication style served me well when I dove into the fast-paced technology startup world in Los Angeles during the mid-1990s. Fast forward ten years later, I moved to the UK and discovered a workplace culture that valued consensus and harmony over speed and directness. In Hong Kong, I have developed an even greater appreciation for polite subtleties that often go unnoticed but are necessary in creating and leveraging strong trusted interpersonal networks.
Do you have a mentor/role model in your career? What's the value of having a mentor?
No one is a bigger proponent of mentoring than I am. I am actively mentored by inspiring leaders who saw a spark in me that they had an interest in growing. Likewise I also act as a mentor to a select group of young professionals with enthusiasm and discipline. My mentees inspire me regularly. Mentoring is not a one-way street, there has to be some mutual interest and affection for it to work. If the mentoring relationship is built on the basis of genuine care and reciprocity, it really can be invaluable to both parties.
Do you feel that you gravitate towards either female or male leaders?
No, I do not gravitate towards either gender when it comes to leaders. I gravitate towards passionate leaders who lead from the front and are actively passionate about their customers and staff wellbeing.
Do you have any advice for working moms on how to progress and succeed?
First of all, I don’t think there is much value in seeing ‘working moms’ as a duality. All mothers work, whether it be in a paid or unpaid capacity, which is why I find the label ‘working moms’ to be unhelpful. Having said that, I would say acceptance is the key to progress and success. Choosing to rear children and thrive in business means that you will not be 100% amazing all the time. Accept that. As a mother of two kids, one of whom is university bound, I’d like to think that I have been raising hardy and resilient kids who value the fact that while Mom loves them to eternity and back, she does sometimes have to make compromises that make her less present. Focus on doing the best you can, and you will succeed. Just don’t be totally surprised if your definition of success changes over time.
How do you balance long hours with your personal life successfully?
The reality is that the higher you move up at work, the more likely it is that you will be working long hours. Having a view of the hours you work, and how that might impact your productivity and personal goals is important. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed so be clear when it comes to articulating what you need to succeed. Can you work remotely, do you have the flexibility to work alternative hours, does management support the holistic you? In many cases, I see people simply doing, working all the hours possible without questioning why or if they are seriously adding value beyond a certain point of exhaustion. So be clear on what you need to succeed and treat management as your partner. There are very few instances where reasonable accommodations cannot be made to support working hours that enable work and personal commitments to coexist.
Looking back at your career to date, can you pinpoint when you first noticed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion around you?
The emphasis on diversity and inclusion has certainly picked up over the last 5 years. Living in Hong Kong, I see posters and active outreach highlighting the need for diverse workplaces. I have the privilege of working for an organization, HSBC, which has a very clear and articulated approach for improving D&I outcomes. It is heartwarming to see the lexicon of D&I making it into board room packs, elevator discussions, town halls, staff meetings and outreach days.
In your experience, what are the benefits of diverse teams and diverse organisations?
Diversity of thought is a key benefit of having diverse teams and organisations. The more homogenous a group is, especially a group with decision making authority, the more likely you are to get the same predictably privileged outcomes. By expanding the selection of people you automatically increase the scope of ideas and contributions available to your organisation. It just makes business sense to accurately reflect the diversity of the populations that we serve in our own organisations.
What's your advice to leaders who want to create a more diverse and inclusive culture or that enables women to progress?
Ask the hard questions, listen to the answers and act decisively. Understand that there is a continuum of maturity for diversity and inclusion. Avoid the tendency to assume that a few sound bites and posturing will improve outcomes. Maturity is a continuous process and not a destination. Cultural changes require an ongoing commitment to challenging working norms and a willingness to address privilege. It isn’t enough to just appear diverse, the real work is to make sure that all feel included.
What one factor has helped you the most throughout your career?
I’ll give you two – flexibility and resilience. Without either of the two, it would have been impossible to maintain my career and personal trajectory.
Flexibility involves seeing yourself as a reed that is able and willing to adapt to changing circumstances around you. Whether this means moving countries, changing industries, retraining or repositioning your skill set, flexibility is the key to maintaining momentum.
Resilience is the counterpoint to flexibility. It’s the inner voice saying that you are more than your current circumstance. It is the push that motivates you to get out there, do outstanding work, then get up the next day and do it all over again. Resilience is the ability to see rejection as feedback and to treat it as such, knowing that you will continue to grow and learn in your career if you just refuse to give up.