Mental Health//

Belinda Purkiss Shares Her Top Career Tips and More

How the Global Delivery Lead, Asia Pacific prioritizes sleep, connection, and self-reflection in her life.

Resilience is the operational core of State Street’s business. In this series, we talk with State Street Role Models about how they — and their teams — stay resilient, and how they prioritize their mental and physical well-being in times of uncertainty.

TG: As a leader in a demanding role, how do you recharge and stay resilient?

BP: I have a few strategies that work for me. First, I “switch off and switch over”: this means making a conscious effort to be in the moment and not try to do it all at once. Second, I talk about my next break as soon as the last one is done. According to my son, people who always have a holiday on the radar feel more energized at work! And third, I always put the work I do into perspective. A lot of energy can be taken up worrying about the small things. I recommend asking yourself, “Is this a matter of life or death?” It’s a little dramatic, but it certainly stops you in your tracks and helps put things in perspective. 

TG: What has guiding your organization through the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about work-life integration?

BP: The pandemic has reinforced the importance of family and friends in helping you cope, and the need for employers to support those connections in their employees’ lives. The pandemic put every company under a spotlight. We had to ask ourselves, how do you support your employees and their loved ones when you need your business to keep operating? The answer, we’ve learned, is that you cannot consider the two in isolation. It is not a matter of either/or. As a result, we transformed the workplace to work-from-home and are having a continuous dialogue with employees on how they are feeling and what they need next. This dialogue and approach needs to be embraced for the future. 

TG: What are some small tips that have helped you thrive in areas that are critical to our well-being, like sleep, focus, fuel, and connection? 

BP:

On sleep: When sleep does not come, stop fighting and grab a book. This allows you some “me time” and usually sends you straight to sleep anyway.

On focus and prioritization: Start your day with a view of your calendar and task list — not your email. We all know, once you open the emails, you lose control of your priorities and time. 

On fueling your body with nutrition and movement: Commit to moving daily in any way that you like and at a time that works best for you. It sounds simple, but if you are not honest about these two things, you will not last. If it is walking you love, focus on walking and do not join a gym. If you cannot operate well at 6:00 a.m., don’t try to start an exercise routine by committing to meet friends at 5:45 a.m. 

On connecting with others, yourself, or to a larger purpose: Make sure family and friends are given priority. Don’t miss that dinner for a meeting — there are always plenty of meetings, not enough dinners. 

TG: Why is it important to champion diversity, equity and inclusion across racial and ethnic identities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, etc. when building a team?

BP: Diversity is not an option, it is a reality. If we do not champion it we exclude so much of the world, which leads to limited views, limited outcomes, and limited success. Each person is influenced by their background, their preferences, their personality, and their orientation. Inclusion allows an individual to thrive as they feel connected and aligned with a collective purpose. It also empowers them to challenge and accept new views and new perspectives. In turn, the output is optimized and equally diverse for our client base who themselves are not single stream.   

TG: Share an example of how the diversity of your team impacted an important business outcome or goal.

BP: I have a team that spans five countries. We are an organization that goes through constant change, the most recent being the proposed merger of teams. People react differently to this uncertainty based not only on their personality but also on their cultural background. Bringing my team together to discuss how this change may or may not impact us has allowed those with concern to get more comfort as they listen to those who see opportunity. A diversity of thought, stemming from a diversity of background, has facilitated that positive outcome.

TG: Do you think empathy is an important trait in business? Why or why not?

BP: Empathy brings depth of understanding to a situation and allows for an enhanced response. Business is run by people for people. Results are delivered when our employees are engaged and our clients are satisfied. To achieve both, you need to understand, relate to, and address the person’s needs — you need to empathize. 

TG: What’s the value of personal self-reflection and accurate self-assessment when it comes to business success? How do you encourage it within the people you work with?

BP: Having managed, mentored, sponsored, and simply connected with so many people across my career, people always ask me how they can get ahead in their career . My response is always to challenge them to explain where they are at, what their strengths are, and how others perceive them. It is interesting how many people have difficulty answering one or more of these questions. Understanding yourself better — seeing where there are opportunities for improvement and understanding the view of others (remember, perception is reality!) — can open up so many doors, not just professionally but also within your personal life. It lets you take hold of your life, your career, and facilitates continuous improvement leading to a better personal outcome. 

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