COO Magazine Q2 2024

COO Interview: Heidi Toribio

Chief Operating Officer, CIB Client Coverage

Heidi is the global Chief Operating Officer, CIB Client Coverage since January 2023. Heidi is instrumental in driving the strategic vision and goals of the Bank.

As an enterprise leader, Heidi takes the lead in elevating team success and client experience by driving operational efficiency to promote and support a scalable, data-driven and client-centric digital bank. Heidi joined Standard Chartered in 2013 as Regional Head of Financial Institutions, North America and went on to become the Global Head of Banks and Broker Dealers before being appointed as Global Head of Financial Institutions.

In February 2021, Heidi was appointed Regional Co-Head of CCIB Client Coverage, Asia. In this Singapore-based role, Heidi was responsible for the Bank’s CCIB business as well as for managing the relationships with the Bank’s corporate and institutional clients in the region. Prior to joining Standard Chartered, Heidi held various senior management roles including Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and Co-Global Treasurer with leading global financial institutions.

Heidi is a strong diversity and inclusion advocate and has taken an active role when it comes to developing women’s economic and career advancement. She was previously Chair of the CCIB Diversity and Inclusion Council and Chairwoman of the Board of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai) PCL.

Advancing Female Leadership: What steps has your organization taken to support and advance female colleagues into leadership roles?

In Standard Chartered, we strive to create a diverse and inclusive workplace with avenues where unique views are both valued and celebrated and the representation of women uplifted at all levels. When colleagues are treated fairly, equally, and with dignity and respect, we see stronger, more genuine relationships – with each other and with clients – alongside increased engagement with work and better overall performance.

When I was the Chair of the Bank’s Corporate, Commercial, and Institutional Banking (CCIB) Diversity & Inclusion Council and a group member of our Global Women’s Network, I had the opportunity to work alongside our leaders, colleagues, and clients in developing a holistic D&I strategic framework that would tackle the long-standing gender parity in various markets and design paths that would strongly support our female colleagues into their leadership roles.

It is imperative for any organisation establishing a solid, future-proof workforce to develop, attract, retain, and engage all employees who demonstrate strong potential to lead. Creating a more equitable and inclusive culture means lifting participation of underrepresented communities in the workforce.

Mentorship and Sponsorship: How do you view the role of mentorship and sponsorship in supporting women’s career advancement, and what programs does your organization have in place to foster these relationships?

There is nothing more empowering than seeing women supporting other women succeed, particularly in their career journeys. Providing them with structured developmental support such as mentorship, sponsorship, and coaching not only open doors that will give them the opportunity to grow and prosper. It also enables them to build their own path and eventually become role models for future generations of women leaders who are willing to break stereotypes and will not shy away from challenging status quo until the real value of equity is felt in our society.

I am a product of mentorship and coaching myself. My career has expanded across various roles, diverse perspectives, and challenges, so I find it compelling for me to keep up with the ever-evolving market landscape. With the support I get from other leaders, whether in a formal or an informal setting, and as I commit to continual learning each day, I find myself thriving more than surviving. And this is the kind of inclusive environment we should foster for every individual to have a fair chance to fulfil their potential and feel respected for being their authentic, unique self.

Advice for Aspiring Leaders: What advice would you give to women who aspire to leadership positions within their organizations?

Be comfortable in your own skin. There is power in understanding and accepting who you are and what you are capable of as a person. Embracing your whole being enables you to not just cultivate your own strength, but also to acknowledge your weakness – and that is power. It allows you to think of ways to differentiate yourself and build a strong personal brand that will take you to your path to success.

When you finally get a seat at the table, stay humble. Inclusive leadership requires humility and acknowledging that you do not know everything, that you can listen to different perspectives, learn from feedback and criticism, and be accountable for your mistakes.

Measuring Success: How does your function / organization measure the success of its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, particularly those aimed at supporting female employees?

This year, Standard Chartered has expanded the scope of our annual Fair Pay Report to cover our broader commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion. Specifically, our Fair Pay Charter, which outlines our underlying philosophy and commitment to equitable pay, has always been at the heart of how we reward our colleagues for performance. We have published our progress aligned to ten principles since 2017. During this time, we have laid solid foundations for a more consistent and transparent approach to remuneration, supporting both equal pay and greater flexibility and discretion when it comes to differentiating for excellence.

Further supporting our female colleagues, we made substantial progress in 2023 with the introduction of equalised parental leave, regardless of gender, marital status or how a child comes to permanently join the family. We expanded access to medical cover for menopause related treatments for all colleagues and their partners. We also continue to rollout and embed flexible working practices in our markets with 75 per cent of colleagues now working flexibly. It’s through these progressive, purpose-led global benefits that we hope to drive further inclusion and lift participation of underrepresented communities in the workforce.

On the personal front, when I reflect on how our function has driven D&I initiatives, I am proud to be an advocate for mentoring and coaching – a critical support to creating a culture of sustainable high performance. Last year after running a 6-month targeted mentorship programme for the junior female leaders to receive career support from global senior leaders in the Bank, I caught up with the mentees to hear about their journeys.

What impacted me most was not just how the programme helped them to hone their leadership skills, but the depth of the relationships they built with their mentors throughout the structured sessions. They felt a deep sense of belonging, which alongside inclusive policies like flexible working, is a key differentiator for us and part of what makes the Bank a great place to work.

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