In Conversation with Suzanne Johnston, CSR Stakeholder Manager at Ulster Bank

Get to know Suzanne Johnston, the CSR Stakeholder Manager at Ulster Bank. Suzanne’s role is to drive the bank’s CSR agenda and manage their community programmes, engaging internally with colleagues across branches and offices, and externally with a range of stakeholders. Suzanne has been with Ulster Bank since November 2018. Over to Suzanne….

What was your background previously? How did you enter the CSR field?

Before joining Ulster Bank, I was working with Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services as Corporate & Legacy Fundraising Manager for 9 years. I really enjoyed the role and loved working with companies, getting to know them and finding ways to work together that benefitted both the company and the Hospice. It was very rewarding and I loved the engagement, so when the time came for a new challenge, CSR was a natural step forward. My experience of the charity sector has been a great help for my current role.

How has the sustainability/CSR programme evolved at your company?

Ulster Bank’s commitment to responsible business was a real draw for me before I joined the company, and in the last year I have gained a great understanding of how embedded that culture is. The bank’s “Yes Check” is a great example of our daily approach to business.

Over the years our CSR agenda has always been aligned with what we as a business can offer our customers and communities, focusing largely on the areas of education and enterprise as well as support for a range of charitable organisations that are important to our colleagues and customers. This support has been delivered through programmes such as MoneySense (our flagship financial education programme), staff fundraising and volunteering programmes and financial support through donations and funds.

Most recently, we have refined and clarified the bank’s new purpose – to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive. Along side our parent, NatWest Group, our purpose will focus on the areas of enterprise, learning and climate, which will guide the next stage of our CSR strategy.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?

I think I’m probably lucky in my role – there is a real commitment to CSR and Sustainability that comes from the top and is embedded throughout the organisation.  There is a genuine appetite for simply doing the right thing, and that in itself provides daily inspiration for me.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

It has to be the Business Working Responsibly mark reaccreditation – I think any CSR manager who has been through the process will probably say the same!

What are the business benefits of having achieved the Business Working Responsibly mark?

Ulster Bank was the first Irish bank to be accredited back in 2014, and it is something that we are very proud to have upheld since. The Mark is an independent verification of our commitment to responsible business, and this is something that has become increasingly important to our customers and colleagues.

Furthermore, the process provides us with a roadmap for continued improvement and strategic direction – that level of self-examination and stepping out of our comfort zone is important.

What is your motto in life?

I have many, depending on what’s going on in my world! But one that I do try to stick to is “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. We all have busy lives with many priorities competing for attention, so I do try to keep an eye on the big picture, be considerate of what others might be going through, and be grateful for the things that really matter.

What would a perfect day entail for you?

Good company and good food! Brunch with my amazing friends, hanging out with my husband and kids and our families, and maybe a run if it’s a nice day and I’m feeling energetic!

How does BITCI help you in your sustainability journey?

BITCI has been a huge support for Ulster Bank for many years, offering solid strategic guidance and leading the way in the delivery of real change and progress. As someone who is still learning the role, I have been very grateful for the relationship that we have with BITCI and I continue to rely on Louise and the team as we shape our strategy for the years to come.


Related News