Callie Lombard, Chief Country Officer for Barclays Offshore Gibraltar, is a rare individual amongst those in the often much maligned banking industry. Definitely a banker with a heart, Callie has already made her mark in the local community in her short time on the Rock.
Born and bred in South Africa, Callie has a strong rich accent that is reminiscent of her multi-cultural mixed heritage. “I grew up in a tiny town close to the Swaziland border which is mainly inhabited by descendants of German settlers with a mix of Zulus, Dutch, Afrikaans and a few English as well, it was multicultural and multiracial,” she says. “It was also a time of great political strife and unrest where one’s safety was of primary concern, there was real danger and you always had to be alert.”
Following in the footsteps of her father and elder brother, Callie went to a leading South African university to study law, going on to work in a niche private law practice. Joking about the fact that with a name linked to the Lombard banking dynasty, founded in Italy many centuries ago, banking should have been in her blood, Callie states that two of her grandparents were actually in banking. “It was always something that I had wanted to do and the change from law to banking seemed to occur organically,” she says. Starting with a small niche bank Callie progressed to working for South Africa’s leading bank, whilst constantly adding to her qualifications, along the way accumulating several diplomas and two Masters degrees, one in law and a MBA.
Callie was the Head of Legal in Corporate Banking at a Barclays’ subsidiary and was eager to broaden her horizons, when by pure chance she heard of the opportunity to work for Barclays in Gibraltar. “I wasn’t looking to go overseas, maybe it came looking for me”, she adds jokingly. She mentions with a smile that when telling people of the opportunity, their first reaction would be to ask where Gibraltar was, and those pretending to know would unashamedly refer to it as “an island in the Caribbean”. Callie says that the opportunity to work in Gibraltar came at a time when: “You reach a point where you realise that you simply have to move on to new things, not least for your own growth, but being cognisant of your young son’s future as well”.
Callie is married to an economist and they have a five year old son who gratifyingly already refers to himself as Gibraltarian, “and don’t you tell him otherwise” she says. “He has taken to Gibraltar like a fish to water, he absolutely loves it but it has not all been plain sailing, leaving your family and friends for a foreign country is never easy”, she says. Callie adds that her husband had put his career on hold to assist in getting the family settled, but he is now eager to resume it. “I love my work and although there are lots of challenges, they are what I thrive on,” she comments.
A major part of Callie’s role is trying to re-establish Barclays and get it up and running again after the bank’s withdrawal from the retail banking sector in Gibraltar. With a substantially reduced staff, Callie says that they are refocusing on dealing with intermediaries and larger corporates, giving Barclays the opportunity to utilise any product across the group but without having a bank account itself within Gibraltar as the accounts will be based in either Jersey or London. “The thing with change is that people do not like it, but with a business model necessitating it we had, and continue to, restructure our client bases for renewed growth,” she explains.
“What people don’t realise is that we are still offering mortgages and that is a part of the retail section that we have retained.”
Callie continues by stating that they still have a number of premier international clients that also bank within London. “As business grows in Gibraltar, we at Barclays aspire to provide the financial support services to enhance such growth,” she comments.
“ I do believe that I have been placed on earth to make a difference, not just to do a job, and that there is a very good reason for me being here in Gibraltar.”
“It is said that hindsight is an exact science, so when in a few years’ time I look back, there might well be things that I might have done differently, but for now my concern is, on a daily basis, to do what I believe to be in the best interests of all concerned.”
One of the first things that Callie and her team took part in was the Relay for Life event in September where they walked or ran around the track at Victoria Stadium in a 24 hour relay. “We were only a small team but even so we were one of the teams that raised the most amount of money for Cancer Research,” she says proudly. Cancer is something that has touched members of Callie’s family as well as some of her team. “It is one of those things that is close to everyone’s heart, so then we carried on and repainted some rooms at the Cancer Research Centre at the end of October,” she says, explaining that all the staff participated, taking turns for someone to be in the office. “Cancer Research will be our focus again this year.”
As the mother of a young son Callie knows what a responsibility it is to raise young people. With this in mind she has committed to working with youngsters in Gibraltar as part of the Barclays Community Investment programme (LifeSkills created with Barclays) which aims at empowering the next generation by training them to gain the required skills for achieving economic independence. “The Barclays’ staff went into Bayside and Westside schools in October and November twice a week teaching the students basic life skills; how to conduct yourself in an interview, how to motivate yourself, how to have confidence,” she states. “I am starting to have a look at other youth activities because that is something I believe to be important. I have been told that the Gibraltar Dyslexia Support Group has a weekly Homework Club which I am keen to become involved with”.
Not only does Callie want to grow the Barclays Brand within Gibraltar, her aim is to make a difference within the community wherever she can. Barclays was a co-sponsor of the International Literary Festival last year, supported the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and recently became involved in funding a team of Young Enterprise students. “They came in with a business plan we were really impressed with. Initially we just provided them financial support, but we have decided to extend it and have offered to provide them with whatever assistance they would require,” Callie says.
Callie’s philanthropic spirit is evident in all aspects of her life: “In November I went back to South Africa to lecture to master’s students at a leading South African university because they are lacking lawyers with banking law knowledge and I have already been invited to return this year.”
Greatest Achievement: The opportunity to head up a leading financial institution in Gibraltar
Idea of happiness: To go to bed knowing that I have done the best that I could and hoping that in some way I have touched someone or at least made a difference
The best thing about Gibraltar: The vibrancy of the Rock and its people, there is always something happening
Hobbies: Building Lego with my son or, if I have time to myself which is rare, I love reading fiction
Sport: I am not really sport inclined but I do enjoy going for a walk, around the Rock, exploring
Something that is not generally known about you: I like to paint – mostly in oils and pastels
Personal unfulfilled ambitions: For the moment I am learning as much as I can, taking it day-by-day and truly enjoying myself, but in an industry of constant change – tomorrow is never a certainty
Motto: Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort – I am here to make a difference.