At work with Bridget Rosewell

Efma feature

10 June 2019

Over the years, Bridget Rosewell has learnt the importance of failing fast – a lesson which has enabled her to thrive in her position of chairman at Atom Bank. She spoke with Efma’s Boris Plantier to tell him more.

Tell me a little about your background

My background is based in economics and I have started and run several economics consultancies. I’m interested in taking my subject forward, looking at areas of risk and uncertainty which is crucial to how we think about banking and finance. I’ve also been involved in audit and risk activities for a long time.

What does your workplace look like?

I don’t have a consistent workplace. Due to my flexible and varied job roles, I work with different businesses each day, so I work from coffee shops as much as I do from my office. When I’m at the bank I sit at a little table in the corner where I can engage with as many people as possible.

Could you describe your usual working day?

My day starts with checking the diary to work out where I need to be and looking through my emails. Some days can be full of meetings, while others can be more mixed and involve lots of travelling.

To be honest, I’m not sure I have a ‘usual working day’; sometimes I can even work from home, but this is both rare and welcome.

What is your favorite food?

That is a difficult question. I love Indian food for its spiciness and variety, especially regarding vegetarian options. I am not vegetarian, but I don’t eat meat too often and when I do, it has to be the highest quality.

What do you do when you need a break from work?

I go out for a walk. I like hill-walking but it’s hard to find the time to do it as often as I would like. So, when I haven’t got enough time for that, I like to knit.

How do you build a successful team?

Successful teams are made of people who respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses, building on the strengths but supporting the weaknesses that we all have. Within teams it is also important to empower individuals and give as much autonomy as possible. If and when there is failure, it’s important to understand why individuals did not get the support needed to prevent or mitigate it.

There is a saying that we learn more from failure than success. Tell me about one of your failures and what you have learned from it.

I used to be an economic forecaster and ran a consultancy firm which sold such services. I came to see that the reliability of these forecasts made these services somewhat dubious. I could not convince my colleagues that this meant we should evolve our offer. In the end I had to leave a business I had founded, and it took me a long while to come to terms with this. I learnt that it is important to fail fast and cut your losses. Economists have a term for sunk costs - losses that can’t be recouped. Don’t let them blind you into sticking with something that isn’t working. 

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Keywords : Workforce management

Geography : United Kingdom