Speaker Insight Series - Adrian Whelan

Adrian Whelan, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Intelligence at Brown Brothers Harriman

Adrian is lending his capable moderating skils to our final panel of the conference - 'Innovating in a Big Company'. Really looking forward to hearing Adrian and the panels thoughts on the subject, no pressure! You can read Adrian's thoughts in the tenth post of our 2019 Speaker Insight Series. We’ve borrowed the format from Tim Ferriss’s book ‘Tribe of Mentors’. You can read about the book here and buy it directly here.

Throughout the book, Tim poses 11 questions to his interviewees with the request to respond to 3 to 5 questions.. or more, if the spirit moves them. See Adrian's answers below:

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

A friend and BBH colleague, Hugh Bolton, who now heads our Zurich office, gifted my son Dylan, “The Best of Dr. Suess” as a birthday present. Dylan and I have read that book together regularly since. I’ve learnt more about life and writing from that book than I ever thought possible. There are too many magnificent quotes to pick a favourite, but I use them regularly in my work, football coaching, and beyond. This one is great:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

For a long time in my professional life I was reticent to be my authentic self. Whether that changed with age, or experience, I most certainly am my true self nowadays. It’s now one of the parts of my job I am grateful for: my passion for reading, writing, and especially talking has a great outlet in my work. That was not always the case. I’ll go back to my Dr. Seuss catalogue for a quote I think is so important for young people in every facet of life:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Unquestionably, my life-long involvement in sport. It developed my confidence, interpersonal skills and discipline which has opened up so many professional and personal opportunities that otherwise may have passed me by. I also believe strongly “a healthy body equals a healthy mind.” I Haven’t been practicing what I preach enough in recent months, but hey, it’s January - new beginnings and all that.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Writing about global financial regulation on our blog www.ontheregs.com of course! While it may be unusual to some, it’s hardly absurd. It’s the best part of any day.

What may be considered absurd by some is that recently I've been talking as much about global regulators’ approaches to new technology and innovation adoption as something like, Brexit.

That's what makes Adminovate such a timely event. At BBH we are as likely to be engaged on topics like robotic process automation, data and digital strategy‎, and Blockchain capability as we are on traditional areas like Custody or Fund accounting. It's a truly exciting time for our entire industry.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Well my grandfather had a great one: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” Meaning, you should never stop learning and evolving. BBH, for example, started out in linen trade and merchant banking, and it’s now a global custodian and tech services provider, helping our clients think about data strategy and transformation. Regardless of your training, background, or industry, expect change. Embrace change. Be part of the change.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I’m a strong believer in “walking it off.” Working in an office can be strange. Inevitably, there are times the mind wanders or a stressful situation arises. Getting up from my desk, getting out of office and walking to shops, a nearby park, or just breathing the air to gather my thoughts is useful. BBH is located very near the Canal and Merrion Square which provide some lovely peaceful walks amidst the hustle and bustle of city centre life. ‎

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