Take a closer look at a UK banknote and you'll spot the signature of Victoria Cleland (MBA 1999), Executive Director for Banking, Payments and Financial Resilience at the Bank of England. Ahead of her appearance at the Imperial Fringe: Money Matters (February 2017), we caught up with Victoria to find out how her time at Imperial prepared her for the role.
Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?
“I studied a full-time MBA, specialising in finance. I had been working at the Bank of England for a few years prior to this so was able to relate the learning to my own work experience.
The MBA gave me an insight into a wide range of issues from quants, to law to marketing. Understanding how these fit together and the need to balance so many factors when making strategic decisions has proved invaluable.
I studied alongside, and was inspired by, a great bunch of people, benefitting from team work and the diversity of thought and expertise.”
Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
“As the Director of Notes and Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, I’m responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient high quality banknotes in circulation to meet public demand. I describe it as aiming to have ‘the right banknotes, in the right places at the right times’. A creative part of the role is ensuring that the notes have innovative security features to prevent counterfeiting and maintain confidence in the currency.
Another important part of the role is understanding what drives demand for cash, how this might change overtime and what alternatives there might be, for example, Central Bank issued Digital Currencies.”
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
“It deepened my knowledge of finance. Perhaps more importantly, it helped me understand strategy and to learn how to ask the right questions.”
What have been your career highlights and lowlights?
“The Bank of England has provided me with a fantastically varied career. Highlights include being involved in the resolution of Northern Rock, establishing the Special Resolution Unit, and signing the banknotes! The lowlight was my initial foray into accountancy before joining the Bank, although that did provide me with an analytical framework on which to build.”
What does a typical day look like for you now?
“I cycle to work and go to the gym before heading to my desk. No day is ever the same. I have a team of approximately 135 staff spread across 3 locations, and a significant number of internal and external stakeholders. I will attend, and sometimes chair, a number of meetings each day ranging from the science behind banknotes, to talent management, forecasting banknote demand, and as a Director contributing to the overall running and strategy of the Bank. I also undertake a lot of work travel, such as, visiting suppliers, speaking at conferences and learning from other central bankers.”
What would be your advice for current students?
“Do a job that you enjoy, take all decisions seriously and listen to the people around you.”
What are you most proud of in your life?
“It is an enormous honour to be signing the country’s currency.”
Do you have a favourite quote or saying?
‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’ - Mahatma Gandhi.