"With me, Ana Botín took a chance on me, and that's a great lesson for all of us." - Pamela Ann Walkden, independent director of Banco Santander

26/01/2023 | Pamela Ann Walkden

On the 5th and 6th of May 2022, the women's community of the Santander W50 program - created by Banco Santander over 12 years ago with the aim of promoting female talent to achieve effective equality – had the chance to meet in person at a Summit held in London

At the meeting, around 200 participants and members of this extensive network of female leaders enjoyed two days of training sessions, discussions, top leadership exercises and networking. They also shared their ideas, fears, ambitions and professional experience.

To launch the new edition of SW50, today we're sharing one of the most inspirational moments from the Summit, which was none other than the talk by Pamela Ann Walkden - president of the Banco Santander Audit Committee and member of the Risk Supervision, Regulation and Compliance Committee - as well as independent director at Santander UK Plc. and Santander UK Group Holdings Plc. - in which attendees heard about her successful career first hand. 

After watching the interview with Pamela Ann Walkden it's easy to understand why, after successfully negotiating her way through a gauntlet of interviews at Grupo Santander, the last of these with Ana Botín, the president offered her a post at the company in three simple words: "Come to Madrid".

“When Ana Botín told me in the last interview that I should join the Group's Board of Directors, I nearly fell off my chair.”

Pamela Ann Walkden
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And so it was that in 2019, Pamela Ann Walkden joined the Banco Santander Board of Directors as an independent director. This strategic role is the kind of challenge she set out to take on when she decided to retire from executive duties at her old company Standard Chartered Bank, where she was Group Head of Human Resources, Risk, Treasurer, Internal Audit, Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations, Asset and Liability Management, and Regional Markets. Moreover, she served as an independent member of the Regulation Committee of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK, and a member of the Stakeholder Group at the European Banking Authority (EBA) among other roles.

“I spoke to my chief executive a year before I wanted to leave. They were very generous actually. They said: why don’t you go and have a coach and help you with that transition?”

Pamela Ann Walkden

However, this change of course didn't come about overnight: her new objective required her to prepare herself in order to successfully complete the transition. And as she herself says: "To become a member of a Board, personal attributes count more than experience". 

In this interview, Pamela explains the ups and downs of her career change, her view of talent as a leader, the changing profiles sought by Boards of Directors, and how women should be able to shake off their own reticence and break the glass ceiling, thus opening up major job opportunities for themselves, just as she did. She also encourages other women to become leaders who move into all sorts of business fields and are able to challenge their view of business or act as a front-line decision-makers.

“Be very clear about what you bring to a Board and just go and ask for it.”

Pamela Ann Walkden

One more year, Banco Santander upholds its firm commitment to gender equality with a new edition of Santander Open Academy Women | SW50 Leadership 2023 - LSE.

The SW50 programme, in which over 700 women from all over the world have already participated, is taught face-to-face on the campus of the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and is aimed at women in senior management positions who aspire to become part of a Board of Directors. This is an opportunity to continue to boost your managerial skills and polish your leadership style. Likewise, participants can share their leadership experiences and access a community of global female leaders.

Aimed at women resident in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the USA, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, this programme offers face-to-face training at the facilities of LSE, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Participants will learn how to sharpen their personal leadership style through training, activities and individual coaching. They will also have the chance to share experiences with women from different countries, networking and establishing a global network with other female leaders.

Do you hold a senior management position and would like to be part of an international community of female leaders? If the answer is yes, sign up now for the Santander Open Academy Women | SW50 Leadership 2023 – LSE.

(At this moment, the Santander Open Academy Women | SW50 Leadership 2023 – LSE call has ended. We encourage you to take a look at the Santander Open Academy portal to find the training that best suits you and give a boost to your professional career. Take advantage of the opportunity). 


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Pamela Ann Walkden, independent director of Santander Bank

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