By Anjuli Davies and Sophie Sassard
LONDON, March 7 A bee sting nearly killed
Natalie Blyth in 2012 but the HSBC investment banker
didn't take fright from the experience - she took inspiration
Blyth is one of the highest ranking female bankers at HSBC.
In between advising the likes of Diageo and Kraft
on acquisitions, she also sits on the strategy and
management committees which decide the future direction of
Europe's largest bank.
Downtime for the 47-year-old, who is fatally allergic to bee
stings, is tending to her beehives at home in Oxfordshire.
Despite coming close to death once, she says maintaining the
hives and watching the co-operation among their inhabitants
offers a model to follow in business life.
"Beekeeping has become part of my soul; for me it's about
risk. Risk, efficiency and productivity", she says.
Blyth applied this attitude to risk and reward when she took
on HSBC's underperforming consumer M&A group in 2007, building
it into a unit that in 2013 advised on $30 billion worth of
transactions including Unilever's $5.4 billion deal to
raise its stake in its Indian unit and China Mengniu Dairy Co's
$1.6 billion acquisition of Yashili International
DUTY TO OTHER WOMEN
Blyth originally had her sights set on becoming a vet after
growing up surrounded by animals.
She studied biochemisty at St Andrews University in
Scotland, but then trained as a lawyer and then switched fields
again, into banking.
Initially, she thought little of being a woman in the world
"The environment I grew up in, there's never been women
versus men. It never mattered. You just need to be good," Blyth
Blyth's first job was at Kleinwort Benson, where she spent
11 years. While there she had four children - and took only two
weeks off after having the first one because she felt that she
needed to make a point to her male colleagues.
She regrets that decision now, and at HSBC - where only 23
percent of senior roles are occupied by women despite them
making up over half of its 262,000 staff in total - Blyth
mentors younger female staff.
"I do feel it is my responsibility and duty to spot talented
women, and get a great satisfaction reaching down, pulling them
up fast, trying to help them avoid all the mistakes I've made."