Arlene Ennis of Citi discusses how she first got interested in tech, the path she took to her current role, and her advice to anyone interested in the industry.
Arlene Ennis is global head of digital collections, treasury and trade solutions technology at Citi. She’s passionate about the work she gets to do with people and technology – both of which, in her opinion, are “always evolving”.
She told us about steps she has taken to get to that position, including help from a more senior colleague on her “big break in technology leadership”.
‘I invest heavily in my team to empower them and remove blockers, which allows them to deliver and be successful’
– ARLENE ENNIS
What first stirred your interest in a career in this area?
I always loved technology. In the ’80s, we got an Amstrad CPC that I had to copy lines and lines of code from a manual to get it to do anything. I spent many happy hours playing [the Amstrad computer game] Oh Mummy until I got a Nintendo from Santa – which I still have!
What experiences led you to the role you now have?
I have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and an MBA.
All my previous roles have been different and helped to build up my knowledge and capabilities in a number of areas including data, risk, compliance, analysis, programme management, finance and transaction processing. This created a wide foundation for my current role.
What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?
Returning from maternity leave was both a challenge and surprise. The first time that I returned from maternity leave, I struggled to settle back into work as the projects I had been working on had moved on and I felt left behind.
But my manager and the company I work for really supported me by providing me with new, interesting opportunities, which ultimately progressed my career.
Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?
I have had many great managers, mentors and a sponsor. One of my managers was a great sponsor and put me forward for a senior role that I would consider as my ‘big break’ in technology leadership.
I learned so much about leadership from that person and I am forever grateful that he saw talent in me and provided me with opportunities to lead.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I love working with talented people every day and with technology. Both people and technology are always evolving, and it is enjoyable to be involved with both.
What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?
I am a people person and curious by nature. These traits make me suited as I am always questioning things, which helps drive our technology approach.
People achieve the great work, so I invest heavily in my team to empower them and remove blockers, which allows them to deliver and be successful.
How did Citi support you on your career path?
Citi is an amazing place to work and has facilitated my desire to work in different roles and different countries, and has supported my decision to further my education.
There are so many different opportunities in a large global organisation and people should make as much use of them as possible.
What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?
Go for it! Technology is open, varied, always evolving and interesting. There is something for everyone, and you don’t need to be a genius to be successful.
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