Chemistry, University of Manchester
I originally applied to the Bank as, although I had enjoyed my degree, I knew I didn’t want to pursue chemistry as a career. Having spoken to other Chemistry graduates who had gone into financial services I realised that the skills I had developed at university would serve me well, and so I quickly set my sights on this sector. For me, the Product and Marketing programme in particular ticked all the boxes - it offered managerial opportunities and demanded both analytical and creative skills, a rare combination.
My first placement was in the Direct Communications Team in Marketing which is responsible for all communications that are sent to our existing customers. With no relevant experience to speak of I was a little nervous that I would be out of my depth, but as soon as I arrived I realised I had nothing to worry about. The team couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming (and assured me that there was no such thing as a stupid question!) On the first day I was assigned my own project, which was to identify a strategy to increase the number of customers we can communicate with via email, with a view to cutting down on our paper communications and make things as convenient as possible for customers.
From the very first week I was meeting with stakeholders from all areas of the business, gaining their insight and establishing a network. My confidence and knowledge grew rapidly. To be given complete responsibility and ownership of my own project was an invaluable experience and while it was a little daunting at first, it was great to know that the team had this level of trust in me.
This placement was the perfect place to begin my career within the Bank, as it gave me a really broad overview of the business and provided me with the opportunity to present my findings to our CEO - a member of the Exec team here. I swiftly built up my marketing and wider business knowledge, delving into everything from data protection legislation to stakeholder and project management.
My second placement saw me explore the Product side of the graduate scheme, moving into the Mortgage Team. This was a complete juxtaposition to what I had done in my first six months and really highlights the diverse nature of the Product and Marketing stream. I’m currently part of the Technical Team within the Mortgage operation and again I have been focussing on a high-profile project. As a technical project, I was swiftly brought up to speed on the intricacies of the mortgage world, familiarising myself with policies, processes, regulation and FCA legislation.
While the project itself has been challenging, I have once again been incredibly well supported by the team and learnt a lot about project management, overcoming operational barriers and, perhaps most importantly, the invaluable lesson that things are never quite as simple as they seem!
I’ll be moving back into Marketing for my next placement, which will hopefully give me more clarity about where I want to specialise in the future- it’s been really interesting seeing both areas so far.
In terms of training and development, I will begin studying towards my CIM chartership in January, and I have recently completed a Diploma in Retail Banking Conduct of Business via distance learning. This has proven really useful in my day-to-day role, giving me a good theoretical grounding in the financial services industry- something I was worried I’d be lacking with my degree.
Overall, the programme has exceeded my expectations in so many ways, from the level of responsibility I have been given, to the support I have received. The opportunities we have been given so far have gone beyond what I ever envisioned when I first applied- I certainly didn’t expect to be meeting the CEO and the Board on Day 2, let alone working on a project for them alongside the other graduates within my first year!
My advice to anyone considering applying to this programme is to remember that Product and Marketing is not just about advertising. The work is technical, analytical and complex, and you should certainly be prepared to do a fair amount of number crunching. Personally, I’ve found the contrast between Product and Marketing to be a really positive experience- while I’m yet to settle on a favourite I’m enjoying the variety of shuttling between the two. You don’t need to have marketing experience to succeed on the programme- I didn’t, and the Bank genuinely values new and different perspectives. It’s such an exciting time to join given the period of change and re-branding we’re going through- give it a go!