Heroes Work Here: Juan Brown

13 October 2022

However our career path at ZEDRA begins, there is always the opportunity to evolve and develop, not just as an individual, but as a team.

Based in the Isle of Man, Associate Director Juan Brown explains how his professional career at ZEDRA has given him opportunities to grow and shares his advice for those who are just starting out.

From developing management skills to the Gandhi quote that has shaped his thinking, read our latest ZEDRA Heroes Work Here interview to discover more about Juan’s story and why he believes that with dedication, hard work and a bit of luck, we can all be the heroes of our own journey.

Tell us about your early career.

After university, I applied to Barclays who were looking for graduates. I got the job, and joined the old Barclays private bank business which became ZEDRA. Going from a degree in Politics and International Business to working in the CSP world was a big change, and at the time, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. Now, after 14 years with the business, I’d say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

What were the challenges and opportunities through your early career, and how did you approach them?

The biggest challenge for me at the beginning was getting used to working in an office environment. Joining a major bank, as it was at the time, was a bit of a culture shock. All of a sudden, you’re part of a local team of around 100, with thousands of people worldwide.

When ZEDRA took over, it felt like a natural progression. The approach to reinvigorating the business under a new brand with new leadership was a great decision. They took all the positive elements of the heritage, kept the skills and added some great new people and merged everything into one to make what is in my opinion, a much stronger proposition to go forward with.

As for the opportunities, one thing I noticed when we became ZEDRA, was the opportunity to be recognised for the work you put in. I feel my career has progressed far more quickly and I’ve been fortunate to have always had a lot of support from the senior members of the team, who have given me so many opportunities.

What character qualities do you feel you’ve developed through your experience?

My role is very much people-based, helping with client relationship building, new business and dealing with teams, clients and intermediaries. I’ve been involved with some of our clients for over 10 years and, as they’ve developed their business with us, I’ve developed as well.

When you speak to people frequently, you gain their trust and your conversations naturally change and evolve. For me it comes down to that basic principle that if you treat people how you’d like to be treated, they respond well. I think that’s a big reason why the team is so successful, it’s because we’re all pulling in the same direction.

Describe a skill, gift or talent you have that you use to help others.

I think because I’m relatively young and I’ve worked up through the ranks within the business, I can understand the pressures my team are facing. Hopefully, I can give them the support they need to get the job done to the client’s satisfaction.

The key is that you can’t rest on your laurels. You need to roll your sleeves up and be involved in the day to day of the team. When you’re hands-on, people feel they can come and speak to you if they have a problem, and you earn their respect and trust. If you’re hands-off, you’re not going to get those insights that will help the team work more effectively and efficiently.

If you had to name four qualities that you think a hero would display, what would they be?

Leadership, honesty, humility and determination.

If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self, what would you say?

Have a bit more self-belief. When you start out, you’re young and enthusiastic but you lack confidence. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had some great line managers, and people around me, who noticed that in my character, and pushed me forward.

That’s why I think I take the responsibility of management very personally. When you’ve been given opportunities, as I have, then you want to pay it forward. You look for opportunities to reflect that same approach through your own interactions.

What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to colleagues who are just starting out on their own journey with ZEDRA?

Enjoy it, work hard and if you’re given an opportunity, take it. There are so many opportunities within ZEDRA, whether it’s the Talent Academy or the chance to progress your career through qualifications, so take them. Don’t sit back and think that people should come to you.

Do you have a personal motto?

Gandhi’s quote, ‘The future depends on what you do today’, because it means you can always be moving forwards. Build on today and make tomorrow a success.

What do you feel most proud of in your career at ZEDRA?

Getting promoted to associate director in April 2020 was a really proud moment for me personally. I wasn’t expecting it, so it came as quite a shock, but it was so nice to have all that hard work recognised by the board.

What are three words or phrases that describe what you feel you bring to ZEDRA life?

I wasn’t brave enough to ask my team for their comments on this, but if I could turn it around and say what I’d like to bring to ZEDRA life, the first would definitely be a good work ethic. Then determination and empathy. I’d like to feel that not just my team, but anyone in the business felt that they could come and speak to me.

What would your Superhero skill be?

A mind reader! Ultimately we’re a client business, and to be able to have those deeper insights into client discussions, going beyond simply what they’re saying into what they’re thinking and their motivations, that would be a great asset to have.

What do you hope will grow from the initiatives that you have helped to begin at ZEDRA?

My hope is that there are some future managers in the junior ranks of my team, and I believe there are. When you’ve worked closely with people who started out at 17 or 18, and seen them develop, grow and go through all those big life events, then it’s a bit like having a child, you’re proud of them and want them to do well.

Personally it would make me feel incredibly proud to see them progress. Of course you need a bit of luck and determination, and I’ve been very fortunate in that regard, but if you work hard, the opportunities are there, and you can progress to do whatever you want to do.

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