David graduated in Politics & Modern History and joined us in 2012 before starting his Community Banking graduate programme in 2014. David tells us what he has discovered so far.
Pre-programme – More than one way in
My journey started differently to other graduates – there’s more than one way in to the programme.
During my final year at university, I met up with a family friend to talk about my future. He suggested I look into financial services because I’d worked as an estate agent before and some of the skills were similar. I stopped at an internet café on the way home, printed off my CV and happened to walk past a Lloyds Bank branch. I gave my CV to the manager and they ended up hiring me as a Personal Banking Adviser.
I did this job for two years, and the more I discovered about Lloyds Banking Group, the more its scale and reach surprised me – I was amazed at the sheer number of customers, our products, services and brands reach. I wanted to learn more, so I applied for the Community Banking graduate programme and started in September 2014.
Programme – Try out new ideas
On my programme I quickly discovered that I could try out new ideas and get involved in projects that didn’t necessarily fit my job description. For example, I thought it’d be good for more graduates to experience working directly with customers, so I arranged with the business for eighty graduates to spend a day in a branch or a call centre.
The feedback I received was outstanding, and I understand my efforts shaped a wider initiative to increase customer facing exposure for graduates. It was good to have my views and opinions respected.
My motto – Champion the customer
By being an estate agent and a branch adviser, I see things from a customer perspective, and when I joined head office they encouraged me to keep this.
At university I was a student ambassador, guiding prospective students around campus and making short presentations to them. This gave me confidence as a presenter, which I used at the Lloyds Banking Group assessment centre to present a solution to a business challenge as part of my application.
Key moment – Appearing live in front of 1,500 people
Maybe because I feel confident as a presenter, I volunteered to help host the 2014 Lloyds Bank Leaders Conference in front of 1,500 people. Even though I had presentation and vocal training beforehand, it was still nerve-racking ‘performing live’ to such a large audience.
But being up on stage got me noticed, and as a result I’ve connected with a number of senior colleagues who’ve advised me on my career journey. They assured me that no matter how senior you are, you can still get nervous when you step out of your comfort zone, but it’s a good way to develop.
I often think about this when I’m at a live music festival, how the bands manage their nerves before playing in front of a sea of people like they do.
Strengths and weaknesses – Discover them for yourself
I’ve had a number of development managers – the best ones find out about your strengths and weaknesses by setting you challenges, where you then discover them for yourself.
I suggest you include at least one strength in your development plan. It gives you an extra incentive to keep getting better at something you’re already good at – you’ll never be perfect but wanting to excel is important.
Advice – Plan around the strengths you want to develop
We’re encouraged to move around the business during our programmes – the trick is to plan your shadow days well and think about your next placement carefully. This is so that you have a clear idea of the strengths you want to develop before you actually choose your next role – think ‘strength first, role second’, that’s what I did.
Don’t just think about the location or business unit you want to be in – graduates are expected to have broad skill-sets when they progress, and the programme gives us the best opportunity to acquire this breadth.
Current role – Think more strategically
My current role is Executive Support to one of the Group Directors. I support his daily activities, working with the executive leadership team to make sure the business is running effectively and to work through decisions with both customer and commercial priorities in mind.
By end-to-end managing his weekly executive meeting, I consider issues more strategically as I develop my stakeholder management and communication skills to achieve results for the customers I champion.
Next move – Challenge, development & support
Ideally I’d next like to work on an ambitious project that’s delivering benefits for customers and the organisation.
Behavioural economics is becoming increasingly important for businesses to attract and retain customers – maybe it’ll be in that kind of area. The key is finding a line manager who’ll support my development plans and peers I can learn from. The work must be challenging, with the right support in place.
In a year’s time I imagine I’ll be more comfortable with the subject matter I’m currently working with and adding more value to the team I’m in.
Outside of work I love to travel and I'm planning my next holiday to New York, it is somewhere I've been wanting to visit for a long time.
On my programme I quickly discovered that I could try out new ideas and get involved in projects that didn’t necessarily fit my job description.