The Short Cut:

A quick fire chat about working life with Magdalena A. Orpel.

Magdalena A. Orpel, Interim Global Head of Customer Insight, HSBC

At the heart of the Nurture Network is the power of sharing experiences. From breakthrough career moments, to best ever advice, how to deal with stress and the women that inspire them.

The Short Cut designed to bring you a snapshot of our members’ working lives. Today we’re speaking to Magdalena A. Orpel, Interim Global Head of Customer Insight at HSBC.

Tell us about your breakthrough career moment

Early in my career, I worked as a PA to a marketing director (a fantastic female leader). I was interested in all things marketing and jumped at an opportunity to do a certification in direct and digital marketing. And soon after completing it, I was offered a role as a digital marketing manager – a big jump – leading the first digital transformation project in the company. It was a success and has showed me that my curiosity and drive to learn and try new things can take me quite far.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right’
My first manager [the same female leader from question #1] has shared Henry Ford’s quote in a team workshop and it really stuck with me. And if there’s anything I can’t (yet), I know I can learn.

The first thing I do in the morning is… 

….yoga and stretching exercises. It helps me both physically and mentally. Nothing like a good stretch of all the body muscles ahead of a busy day. It helps me ground myself, connect my body and mind and focus on the present moment.

How do you protect your mental health in moments of pressure?

My best solution is a long walk in the countryside to freshen my mind and get a different perspective. Or even a short walk around the block can do the trick when time is limited. Changing the setting for a while and diverting attention to other things around me helps me refocus on what’s really important. 

I think the quote from Daniel Kahneman captures it well: ‘Nothing in life is quite as important as you think it is while you’re thinking about it’.

Do you have any hobbies to keep you busy in your spare time?

I love learning new things, and in particular languages. Being able to speak the local language allows you to understand local culture so much better. People open up when you listen to them in their own language and observe life from their point of reference. I speak English, Polish and Spanish and most recently also French.

I feel empowered when…

… I know there is someone out there trusting in me.
A good night sleep helps too, I don’t function well if I haven’t slept enough hours.

The world would be a better place when…

…we give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions. It’s not naivety, it’s a constructive way of avoiding the fundamental attribution error.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

Oh, there are so many!
Last year has seen me reading loads on behavioural science and my recent favourites are ‘Think Big’ by Grace Lordan, How to Change’ by Katy Milkman and Happiness by Design’ by Paul Dolan.
In fiction – the best book ever is Flights’ by Olga Tokarczuk. A must read!

The woman who empowers me the most is…

…my mum. She has always supported me and taught me that I can be anyone I want. I admire how she faced any challenges life has thrown at her with a positive attitude. Never forgetting what’s most important in life.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

I love mountains: hiking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. Standing on the very top of the summit, everything covered in white powder snow. Blue sky, crisp air and sharp wind in the face. That moment before I start going down the hill on my snowboard. That is the best place and time to be.

Whistler BC Canada, photo by Benjamin Hayward
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