Women Boardroom
HSBC Banking Chief Amanda Murphy: Women Can't Have It All But That's OKReuters

It's not true that women "can have it all" - but we should be ok with that, according to Amanda Murphy, head of UK commercial banking at HSBC.

Speaking to delegates at the Women in the City's Future Leaders Award breakfast symposium, Murphy delivered a rousing account of how women, as well as men, cannot necessarily tick all the boxes in terms of a work-life balance, but you have to work as part of a team to weigh out equality.

"Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg said 'the most important decision in your working life, is the person you marry', and at first I thought, 'that's a bit odd'," said Murphy.

"But what you realise is that the statement is about how you make career and personal decisions, consciously or subconsciously, based around your work or your partner's work, your children or your hobbies."

According to PwC data, quoted by Murphy, 75% of women in work move for their partner's career, while two thirds of those women have a longer commute than their partner.

Through her career at HSBC, Murphy has worked in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and the Asia-Pacific, where she was the head of commercial banking in Indonesia.

She only just returned to the UK in November, where she took up her new role.

"There is a constant trade-off but you've got to think whether it is fair or feasible to split everything 50/50," said Murphy.

"The most important thing is to have shared values and vision and mutual interests. Of course I have a bucketful [of regrets] as I am not there for every dinner or make cakes for the children's bake sale, but I am always there for sports day and the end of term plays, and whenever we travel, we travel for my work."

Reflecting how marriage and a family is similar to being part of a core group at work, Murphy highlighted how important it is to have "team orientation".

"People say that women can have it all, but it's not true. But people should be ok with that and focus in on what your priorities are and what you want in life," said Murphy.

"You've got to do what works for you, what makes you happy, and work together to make it happen."