“At My Best” with Rob Hawthorn

31 March 2017

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Rob Hawthorn is Managing Director, Client Service at Barclays International, Corporate Banking.

Rob is also a man on a mission, known for working tirelessly to help his teams deliver exceptional customer experience. And for Rob, it all begins with employee engagement. For evidence, look no further than the legendary ‘Gadbrook Globe Awards’ which Rob founded 14 years ago. The Awards recognise exceptional employee performance, but they do it with a very entertaining twist: think Strictly Come Dancing meets X Factor, and you’ll be halfway there (see photographic evidence below).

We were delighted to hear that Rob’s client servicing team were recently awarded Investors in People’s highest level of accreditation; the platinum standard - which is only held by 26 other companies globally. We caught up with him to find out his secrets of success.

When you’re in a people business, the most important thing is to employ people who like talking to people every single day. Recruit great people, train them well, then communicate with them relentlessly. And it’s about being honest; when we’re facing pressures, we need everyone to be on the same page, to understand what we need to achieve.

Making clients feel valued isn’t about showering them with ostentatious attention; it’s about doing simple things but doing them well. For example, I fly a lot with Cathay Pacific, and somewhere in their log they’ve noted that. Without fail, the cabin manager will take the time before take-off to come and find me and say ‘welcome back’. It’s such a simple thing but it makes me feel valued.

I spent two weeks in Atlanta at the Ritz Carlton Management School, learning how they deliver a consistent client experience globally. It’s their policy that if a single chair is out of place, anyone in the team can take responsibility for straightening it, not just the delegated chair manager. I think that attitude to responsibility is something all businesses could benefit from adopting.

Tickets for the Gadbrook Globe Awards sell out within 40 minutes of going on sale. When your colleagues are lining up to celebrate each other’s success - on a weeknight - that’s a true measure of employee engagement! It’s something we’re hugely proud of.

The Gadbrook Globes committee is always half made up of new people, which means junior team members can gain project management skills through organising things like ticketing and catering. Everyone in the team works so hard to make them a success and we pay attention to every single detail to make them inclusive and unforgettable events.  

The people who take part in the ‘entertainment’ section of the Gadbrook Globes rehearse for up to three months in their own time – now that’s commitment! 

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I’ve had three mentors in my life and I’m proud to say that they are all women. My mother was the first. She taught me how to always do the best I can, and to enjoy doing that. Alison Brittain, was the second during her time at Barclays, Alison is now the CEO of Whitbread, I find her inspirational. Not just because she’s running a FTSE 100 company but because she talks about clients and customers in almost every sentence. Finally, Cindy Novotny runs Master Connection Associates, an international consultancy for sales and leadership performance. I first heard her speak about her work in hospitality 17 years ago, and I have gained an enormous amount of insight from her.