Find out what Christina learned abiyt Sabine.

A career in banking was never my goal – I actually stumbled into it after a short gig in the pharma sector. And I've only been at UBS for three years. But despite its reputation as a male-dominated industry, already I’ve realized that being an ambitious woman and joining the banking sector are not mutually exclusive. This was brought home to me last week as I attended an event that featured the personal story of Sabine Keller-Busse, UBS Group Executive Board and Group Head Human Resources.

Go for it

Get out of your comfort zone! That was the main message from the 6th Women’s Perspectives on Leadership and Career Advancement event, which featured an interview with Sabine Keller-Busse that was moderated by Gudrun Sander, University of St. Gallen (HSG) Adjunct Professor of Business Administration and Director for Diversity and Management Programs. Sabine’s comment summed it all up: “Life is not a straight line. It’s about being open and taking opportunities.”

Greatest successes

Sabine's professional achievements – being named a McKinsey & Company Partner, becoming the first female region head at Credit Suisse Switzerland, and now being a member of the UBS Group Executive Board – are impressive. But what really captivated me was an event early in her career. After her father passed away, Sabine had to take over the family business while completing her degree at HSG. She organized a management buyout to ensure that employees who had spent the better part of their lives working at the firm would be okay. She already had a strong passion for people then – and now she gets to use that on a day-to-day basis!

Cultural change

Given her experience across several industries, it was interesting to hear about the cultural shifts Sabine has seen, especially after the financial crisis. Culture has become more and more important, and leveraging professional women's skills and experiences is more important than ever. When asked about culture and women at UBS, Sabine shared the firm's ambition to increase the percentage of women in management roles at UBS to one-third, as well as implementing programs such as UBS Career Comeback to pave the way back into the workforce and the industry.

First-hand experience with unconscious bias

I think I can speak for the crowd when I say it was truly inspirational to see that despite having experienced some of the most cliché scenarios of gender bias (“They were making decisions about my development based on assumptions about my ambitions”), she displayed no sense of defeat. She was vocal about what she didn’t agree with while staying true to her authentic self. Which is exactly why (she explained) UBS invests heavily in unconscious bias trainings – to counter preconceived notions that we all have in some shape or form.

Two kids and two working parents

Sabine's two tween / teen daughters have always been part of the equation. They've always seen their mom work and can't imagine it being different.
Sabine admitted that it's a stretch to make everything work, and it's key that she and her husband fairly share all of the family responsibilities. She also noted that "You need to decide what you want. You may need to make deliberate sacrifices, for example, to minimize social things." But she noted that it's worth it, because she truly enjoys working and spending time with her daughters.

What do I take away?

What do I take away from all this as a young female professional in the finance sector? Some inspiration. Some tips (like to make sure that I talk with my manager about my career ambitions). And a lot of confidence as I look toward the future.

Christina in a nutshell

Christina Poothullil joined UBS as an intern in 2015 and since 2016 has held a permanent role in Group Internal Communications, which is part of the Communications & Branding team.

About Sabine Keller-Busse

Sabine Keller-Busse became a member of the GEB of UBS Group AG and UBS AG in January 2016. She has been Group Head Human Resources since August 2014. Having joined UBS in 2010, she served as Chief Operating Officer UBS Switzerland until 2014. Prior to this, she led Credit Suisse’s Private Clients Region Zurich division for two years. From 1995 to 2008, Ms. Keller-Busse worked for McKinsey & Company, where she had been Partner since 2001. Ms. Keller-Busse holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Gallen and received a PhD in business administration from the same university.

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