A rising star’s thoughts on how to get ahead

Aneta Lazarz-Carvalho describes how making the most of every opportunity helped her become a Director at Barclays

Aneta Lazarz-Carvalho

Director, Technical Accounting Group, Finance

17 years in the industry

10 years at Barclays

What was your first job out of college?

I joined PwC’s audit practice in New York as an associate. My first client was a German bank. And as I’d majored in German and Accounting, that was amazing – I could leverage what I’d learned in both subjects. I spent six years at PwC in their Audit and Transaction Services practices.

What drew you to Barclays?

At PwC, I worked with a lot of different financial institutions, from domestic and international banks to private equity firms. I provided assurance and business advisory services, delivering accounting insights and moving on to financial due diligence work for investors across all financial services sectors. But I was looking for a new challenge.

I knew I wanted to work for an international bank and stay within investment banking. And I was also keen to expand my knowledge of U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and gain exposure to a wider range of financial products. When I discovered through my network that Barclays was expanding and building a Technical Accounting team, it felt like an ideal opportunity.

And once you joined Barclays, what has your career path looked like?

I’ve always tried to manage my career and make the most of every opportunity to show what I could do. For instance, I was promoted to Vice President after I produced a complex analysis of a mortgage origination business to determine if there was goodwill impairment. It involved building a model by projecting cash flows, determining the appropriate discount rate, calculating a present value and drafting conclusions and recommendations. I walked my manager and the Chief Financial Officer through it. They were able to reach a well-informed decision based on that analysis. Neither of them had expected so much nuanced detail, so they were really impressed with my work.

My promotion to Director followed after I stepped into the shoes of a Director who moved back to London. By taking on her responsibilities, I made sure that client service and business support weren’t disrupted. And I also showed I could prioritize, lead and be flexible.

How do the skills you’ve gained so far help you?

The information I produce influences business decisions and policies and affects a wide range of complex business transactions. So, technical expertise is one skill I couldn’t do without. Another is the ability to collaborate. I’m constantly interacting with other people and functions to get things accomplished, so I must be able to build strong working relationships and work well in a team. I make sure I keep developing those skills by participating in industry group meetings and conferences.

Is there any one thing that transformed your career?

My mentor. I first met him at PwC but he also worked for Barclays. He encouraged me to believe in myself, helped me showcase my skills and gave me invaluable career advice. We’re still in touch today.

Now, having experienced what a good mentor can spur you to achieve, I try to offer that same supportive relationship to new talent here.

What do you love about Barclays?

The people – collaborating with them and learning from them. Plus, the work – it’s high caliber, significant, complex and has a big impact on the organization. For example, when Barclays acquires a company or sells off part of our business, I help resolve any accounting issues, determine the financial impact and explain what that means from an accounting perspective.

How do you overcome challenges at work?

A typical challenge is working on something I’ve never worked on before. I do a lot of independent research, look at benchmarks, gather the views and opinions of others and analyze and debate the issues. Face-to-face communication is key. I like to get everyone in the same room so we can share different points of view.

And the best advice you’ve received?

Own your career. There are lots of opportunities at Barclays but you need to seek them out. I’ve always tried to do that. I also recommend aiming to exceed expectations rather than just meeting them. That’s certainly worked for me.