Meera is a Strategy Ace who joined our Risk Graduate Leadership Programme with a Law degree. Meera tells us what she has discovered so far.
Who am I? – A strategic thinker with plans
I’m a keen movie fan, quick to pick up on storylines and good at remembering details. I love all kinds of movies, but my favourites are the ones that leave me with plenty to talk about afterwards.
I’m also a big reader, and most lunchtimes I’ll go and sit somewhere quiet so that I get lost in a good book.
When I was young, my dad gave me a novel about a woman who became leader of her country, and I remember thinking, ‘I want to be like her’. She was a strategic thinker with plans, and so am I.
What I do – Organise, analyse, strategise
I do a lot of strategy in my graduate programme. When I’m asked to assess financial risks, I put my strategic hat on.
I organise and analyse the data, spot trends in the accounts and reach a conclusion. Then I work with others on devising strategies to lessen the risk and make a business stronger.
How I got here – I studied the module options
How did I end up choosing Risk for my graduate programme?
After going to careers fairs, picking up the literature and studying all the different module options, I decided to start my career in Compliance and Regulation. So I conducted more research, and discovered that Risk was one of the range of Graduate Leadership programmes offered at Lloyds Banking Group.
I chose the Risk programme mainly because it’s rotational – by doing four six-month placements, I could experience different areas of Risk before choosing one. This structure was ideal for me – being naturally risk-averse, I’d struggle to commit to one particular area of Risk immediately!
Moving around – It’s brilliant
Being able to move around on my placements is brilliant. I get to work with a wide range of colleagues, all with different personalities, skills, experience and working styles.
I’m making connections, developing my networking skills and acquiring the basics of stakeholder management. And I’m discovering roles I didn’t know about or wouldn’t have considered before – there’s much more to the world of Risk than I imagined.
Credit – Definitely a future career option
Before starting this graduate leadership programme, Credit wasn’t an area I felt particularly drawn to within Risk. But now, it’s definitely a future career option.
Right now I’m assessing and managing credit risk. I started with low ticket value proposals for small commercial clients, and now I’m moving on to larger corporate clients.
I’ve got to grips with credit underwriting, and been out with our sales managers.
I’ve learnt how to read and analyse accounting data and come to reasoned conclusions based on the facts – one of the main strengths of a Strategy Ace.
Collaborating – It’s inclusive
I’m soon to be assigned to a project for streamlining the credit process, so I hope to bring some new thinking to the table.
I’m good with processes, facts and figures, forming strategies, but I prefer to do it collaboratively because it means a better end product.
Working collaboratively brings out the best in me and the others I’m working with. It’s inclusive, with each of us bringing our own strengths to the process.
Stand-out moments – The day I made a difference
My biggest day so far was the day I successfully wrote a piece of code in SAS.
It led to a policy change that’s already benefiting a lot of customers – knowing that I’ve made a difference is a good feeling.
Visiting dealerships with our sales managers has been a highlight too – meeting our customers and finding out from them what working with us is like.
On the volunteering side, my stand-out moment was when I ran a workshop in Bermondsey for school students, advising them on the ins and outs of applying for sixth form.
For this I received an internal award – a ‘Riskognition’. That was a proud moment.
Another volunteering initiative that stands out was the Great Risk Bake Off. Everyone in Risk baked cakes, brought them to work, and sold them in aid of BBC’s Children in Need charity.
You’ve probably gathered by now that Lloyds Banking Group is big on doing things for charity. It’s the right thing for a leading financial services organisation to do. I’m proud to be involved.
My day one advice – Be open
When you start at a company, don’t be scared to let people know that you’re new. Be open about the stage you’re at in your development – people will be more than happy to share their knowledge with you.
Seek out different experiences, but don’t spread yourself too thin, and focus on discovering what your strengths are so that you can build on them.
Thanks to my manager, I’ve discovered my strengths as a people-person, and I’m using these to develop the leadership style that suits me.
It means I can be myself and inspire others to think strategically too, just like the woman in the book my Dad gave me all those years ago.
I stick to the facts and I’m good with figures, plus I have a mind like a filing cabinet – maybe that comes from studying Law.