Book Review: The Virgin Banker

Book Title: The Virgin Banker – My Life in Finance

Author: Jayne-Anne Gadhia (introduction from Sir Richard Branson)

Publisher: Virgin Books

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book was recommended by fellow school business leader Dawn Boyes; and is one of a number of books recommended by SBMs for SBMs via the SBM Reading List.

What is the book about?

This book is different to others I have read and reviewed. It is not a self help book or based on theory. It is a sort of autobiography, but is focused on the business elements of Jayne-Anne’s career, culminating with her being CEO of Virgin Money.

The book starts with a great introduction from Sir Richard Branson:

It is vital to find brilliant people, and then empower them to grow themselves as well as their business. By giving them the space to try things and the freedom to fail, eventually they will succeed.

I think there is a large part of this ethos that is missing in education, it has never felt to me like it is ok to fail.

What did I think of the book?

I found the book fascinating, because it is real life. I enjoy finding out what the real story is behind the headlines and this delivers it in great detail. It is a real insight in to the banking crisis. I was hoping for a more detailed insight into Virgin and the way it works, only because I find it an interesting and inspiring organisation. You do get an understanding of how they live and breathe the company values, you either buy in to it and work hard; or you get off the bus.

At one stage she touches on the culture, which implies an old boys club and regular entertaining, but then she shy’s away from going in to much detail. I am sure their is a lot that she could divulge but I respect her for not doing so. If there was anything along the lines of the scandals that we’ve seen in the news recently then I hope she would have had the integrity to do something about it.

I have the upmost respect for Jayne-Anne opening up about experiencing depression and mental health issues. I think that is a brave thing to do for someone as senior as her, I hope that it is a sign that it is becoming more acceptable to talk about.

I have worked with and supported a number of colleagues experiencing mental health issues and they are brilliant at what they do. It doesn’t stop them having a successful career.

There are lessons that we can take away, in planning the growth of multi academy trusts, from the banking crisis… growing too fast, insufficient capital, lack of diversity and an unhealthy environment.

Are these issues part of your risk management and growth strategy?

I also love the concept of The Kitchen Table test – if you want to know more read the book!

There is so much I could say and quote about this book, I’ve written 4 pages of notes to refer back to in my journal. I will leave you with a quote that has inspired and motivated me, which are Jayne-Anne’s thoughts on where success comes from:

I am absolutely convinced that it comes by finding your supporters wherever they may be and shutting out the detractors, the nay-Sayers and those who simply hold you back.

Building on each other’s thoughts and ideas, not closing them down – that in my view, is the way to innovate, development and success.

If if you have read or decide to read the book, please let me know in the comments below what you have taken away from it. We would also love more suggestions for the SBM Reading List, please keep sending them. If you use Twitter add the hashtag #SBMreadinglist to your Tweet.

The next book that I will be reading and reviewing is Grit by Angela Duckworth, recommended by Sian Turner.

#BeTheChange #HappyReading

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