Case study

Relationship support manager — Lorna Sutton

Lorna wanted to expand her horizons and learn more about the financial aspect of business, having enjoyed the more commercial side of her role in retail...

During the third year of my degree in history at University College London, I applied for a graduate management scheme of a major high street retailer. I was successful, and after I graduated, I embarked on the scheme. I worked as a commercial manager in a few different stores before leaving to join the Barclays Corporate scheme.

It's difficult to describe a typical day because, fortunately for me, there is a lot of variety to the role. I work alongside a team that supports corporate clients with their banking requirements. This involves answering phone calls and emails, and attending meetings with clients to establish what they need and how this can be delivered. There are also internal meetings, emails and phone calls to ensure the client's needs are addressed. The role involves general maintenance of accounts and due diligence as well as ongoing training, especially on new products and keeping up to date with the current economic environment.

I'm on a two-year training programme, which is structured to give me grounding in the relationship side of commercial banking, as well as an understanding of how the commercial bank works as a whole. Consequently, I feel I have a lot of roles I can work towards and aspire to progress in the bank and continue to be challenged and exposed to new things.

I enjoy working with people. Working directly with clients and colleagues is ideal, as it means spending time with a wide variety of people on a daily basis. I have also enjoyed working with, and learning more about, company financials, banking products and models and ultimately how this fits in with the wider economy. But mostly, I enjoy a challenge and lots of variety and this graduate scheme has delivered this.

The most challenging part of the job so far has been getting myself up to speed with banking products, processes and terminology, having never worked in, or studied, the financial sector. Arguably, a history degree has no direct application in the financial sector. However, it helped me to develop a number of skills that are very useful in the workplace. Most notably my ability to efficiently manage my time and vast amounts of information, as well as enabling me to understand, formulate and present complex discussions.

The graduate scheme here, not surprisingly, involves a vast amount of training and having the opportunity to up-skill myself like this has been fantastic. Put simply, it combines my enjoyment of maths and being stretched intellectually with my desire to work with people.

If I had to give advice to students, I would suggest they have a good look at the graduate websites and try to get some relevant work experience to make sure the role is right for them. I would also suggest they apply as early as possible, as schemes like the one offered by Barclays Corporate, work on a rolling basis and fill up very quickly.