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Barclays’ expanding Dubai office is a ‘fun’ place to work

Rezwan Mirza

While Barclays implements a new strategy that will see 19,000 jobs cut worldwide, the Dubai operation of its corporate bank is preparing for another wave of expansion. In fact, according to Rezwan Mirza its head of corporate banking in the UAE, it’s not only a stable place to work – it’s a fun one.

As trite as this may sound, Mirza says that his focus has been on hiring the right employees not just based on their technical know-how, but getting the right personalities on board.

Adorning the reception of Barclays' office in Dubai are posters displaying the bank’s new ‘principles’ of “respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship”. This extends into meeting rooms and even Mirza's own office, he says. A polished, brand-consultancy version of the “no jerks” rule under Bob Diamond’s reign, it nonetheless services as a form of “self-selection”, says Mirza – if you can’t subscribe to these principles, you’re not going to fit in.

Barclays corporate bank in the UAE will add another 10% to its headcount in 2014 – Mirza would not reveal how many people it employs – and this follows a similar expansion last year.

“Dubai is a great hub, the GCC generally is investing in infrastructure and new companies are coming to the region, which is creating demand for corporate banking services,” says Mirza. “However, for Barclays, Dubai is also a corridor into Africa and it’s that connectivity that is also fuelling our expansion.”

Barclays relocated its back office functions related to its Africa business from Dubai to Johannesburg in 2011, which resulted in 123 job cuts.

The main focus will be on client-facing positions, but the bank is also hiring for trade finance, cash management and transaction banking roles. Barclays faces some stiff competition for talent from other international banks and regional players, a large number of which are also increasing headcount currently.

Mirza insists that Barclays is an attractive proposition for corporate bankers, and this is not just down to the professional environment. “People have to be professionally fulfilled – whether that’s career progression, training or other opportunities – but they also have to enjoy coming to work,” he says. “Everyone working here has access to senior management – my door is always open and I cannot underplay the importance of open communication within the organisation.”

Mirza says that Barclays UAE operation aims to get its employees involved in community work. Regular bake sales are held to raise money for charity, staff engage with underprivileged communities in Dubai and will be volunteering at a local orphanage during this year’s Ramadan, he says.

Corporate banking pay in the Middle East has been heading up over the past year in line with increased demand. Head of transaction banking positions now pay $210-457.7k, according to figures from recruiters Robert Half, while trade sales roles offer $110-278k.

Related articles: 

Big redundancy packages at Barclays, head of U.S. rates trading quietly departs

More senior bankers head for the exit at Barclays’ London operation

Goldman Sachs’ head of UK private equity departs

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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