Credit rated: Sophia Steiger has progressed from working at London's largest sewage plant to managing assets worth billions for a global bank. She traces her journey from serious muck to serious money.


What's your role at Credit Suisse?

I'm responsible for managing a multi-billion-dollar global cost base. This includes the costs relating to the IT programmes that deliver the innovative solutions for the future; the IT applications that are relied upon every day; and the infrastructure that we all assume will be there, such as computers, phones and the buildings we work in.

I am concerned with both efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring that we get the best value from our investments. This requires a focus on financial accounting and management reporting, plus the ability to understand M&As and drive programme management.

It's a complex environment that's similar to those of other financial services companies, big firms such as BP and large government departments. The challenge is to optimise spending while ensuring that operational risks are minimised, enabling our people to innovate while meeting ever-extending regulatory requirements such as Basel III.

To match up to this challenge, I have a global team based in Zurich, London, New York, Singapore, Pune (India) and Wroclaw (Poland). It's a combination of strong business partners working across IT and real estate who understand all the business issues. They analyse the data, providing insight and decision support to the business with rigorous accounting, control frameworks and straight-through processes.

The requirement for sufficient controls and processes to ensure that we meet all our global regulatory requirements is significant. For IT alone we process more than CHF300m ([pounds sterling]207m) of accruals monthly and manage nearly CHF2bn-worth of assets on the balance sheet.

What are the secrets of managing finance successfully for a global banking giant?

There are two key ingredients: being a subject expert and having a great team. Genuinely, to get to the heart of helping any business to be more efficient and effective it's essential that the finance team has a thorough understanding of the business. My degree in IT and my years with Deloitte focusing on cutting IT costs have been key.

Persuading CIOs and COOs to trust my opinion from day one, enabling me to challenge the status quo, was another challenge. Weaving this trust with that of my team is essential. I recognise that building the best team comes from finding opportunities for individuals to demonstrate their full potential. Because of the hierarchies in which we work, particularly in banking, some of the best talents are hidden. Each quarter I ask the whole team to gain an understanding of what they are working on and dive deep into various topics. This way I can really find out what people are capable of. It does take time, but it pays dividends over and over. Combining this with Credit Suisse's formal internal-mobility...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT