Lauren joined the graduate scheme at Lloyds Bank after graduating from the University of York. Since then she’s had a range of placements across the Commercial Bank based in London; post the graduate scheme Lauren joined the wider Capital Markets department as an analyst before joining the Infrastructure & Energy team within CB Markets earlier in 2017.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I grew up in the North East and have steadily moved further south. At school I enjoyed studying and understanding Maths and Physics so decided to take that further and read Maths at the University of York, ultimately receiving an MMath after four years.
At that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to move to London and gain relevant experience to develop my career. I applied for and undertook a summer internship at Lloyds in between my 3rd and 4th year at university.
The reason I chose Lloyds was due to the rotational aspect of the graduate scheme which made sure you had a decent understanding of how the Commercial Bank works and what different roles it entails (clue: a lot!). After graduation I joined Lloyds and spent two years covering 4 different roles across coverage, risk and products. I particularly enjoyed my time in the products area – in Capital Markets where juniors worked in a pool across multiple teams (again I didn’t know what I wanted to do!) so spent a further 18 months there after the graduate scheme.
Whilst in that team I was also given the opportunity to take on a management role and had responsibility for all graduates and interns in the department (up to eight graduates and ten interns at any one time) which was a great learning experience and helped develop the softer skills at the same time as gaining product-specific knowledge.
Whilst in Capital Markets I particularly enjoyed working on the longer term structuring projects within the Infrastructure & Energy team, and also found the wider asset class very interesting so joined the team in 2017.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
My day will typically depend on the time of year (summer months are usually quieter with autumn being a particularly busy time with transactions closing before year end) or whereabouts in the deal cycle we are. I usually start by reading the news over breakfast but can then quickly get busy with client meetings or internal meetings. We also work hard to meet client deadlines for financing requirements which can mean getting a lot of internal and external stakeholders on board and lined up.
No two days are the same which keeps me on my toes!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not really! I’m still in the beginning of developing my career so my decisions have been based on what I’ve enjoyed and what interests me, and especially what challenges me. I always knew I wanted to study Maths but didn’t feel too strongly about anything else. So long as I’m being challenged and learning daily that works for me!
What do you love about working for Lloyds Banking Group?
The people and the culture are key – it’s imperative to get on well with your team and there is a real camaraderie spirit here. Lloyds Banking Group is also very supportive of career development with a focus on breadth of experience rather than depth with regular jumps occurring around the business both on a temporary and permanent level.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?
My biggest challenge was managing a group of graduates who were only a year or two younger than me, as well as doing the normal day job as an analyst which involved a good bit of balancing and stakeholder management!
The hardest part is always delivering difficult messages around performance, but equally it’s the most important part. I spent a bit of time talking to other managers and listening to their experiences and advice, at the same time I also made sure I was always myself and put my own stamp on how I did things which I think meant that I always tried to be genuine and honest.
How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?
I’ve been lucky to have strong managers who have pushed me outside my comfort zone and encouraged me to develop myself and not settle. I’ve tried to keep in touch with different people I’ve met too who can give me different viewpoints and advice.
Lloyds also hosts a range of workshops which are aimed at developing leadership skills and resilience – I try to remember the pieces of advice which resonate the most with me and incorporate them into my day.
Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?
I think networking is important, particularly when originating new business, but it’s something that I’ve always struggled with. I’m trying to push myself to do it more (in the hope it becomes easier!) and am focusing on developing relationships with people I’ve already met and have something in common with.
We get invited to a range of industry and client events so there are plenty of opportunities to network, with faces getting more familiar over time.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?
I’d say look out for internal or external groups which are linked to your industry or areas you’re interested in – for example joining a women’s group with peers from your field. It’s obviously important to do your day job well, but think about how you can go one step further and get involved with initiatives which are important to the group, ie charitable initiatives which can have a strong focus from senior management.
Finally, keep in touch with those who you’ve worked with and continue to develop your network.
What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in consultancy (banking?)?
At the beginning of your career try not to restrict yourself too much and try to experience several different areas. Listen carefully to everyone and ask lots of questions – make the most of the opportunity of being a junior and having the excuse to meet lots of people! Above all be open-minded and think about what can push you outside of your comfort zone.
What does the future hold for you?
At the moment I’m focusing on developing in my current role and making the most of learning as much as I can. There are a lot of changes coming up soon which can often lead to the best opportunities so I’m trying to keep open-minded at the same time.