Growing up, I never had an abundance of opportunities at my disposal. For the most part, I had a greater chance of excelling in either sports or music as opposed to having a professional career. I remember being in year 6 and a teacher asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I remember replying 'an Estate Agent!' because they were the only suit-wearing professionals I ever came across.
So fast forward to Sixth Form, after I had completed an internship at EY, that served as the turning point which inspired me to pursue the ACA qualification, and hence, Accounting and Finance at Birmingham. I am now working at Barclays on the Treasury graduate scheme, where I am training towards the ACA – from which I have exemptions gained from studying Accounting and Finance.
Did you participate in extra-curricular activities, if so how have these helped you in your current career?
Whilst at Birmingham, I was probably Mr Extra Curricular! I’d say my most poignant extra-curricular activity was setting up BuddyMe – a mentoring scheme where first year students were mentored by second- and third-year students. I was able to provide over 400 first year students with a mentor over my 2 years of running the scheme. From doing so, it gave me unprecedented levels of exposure – namely as I was selected to help advise the University’s Executive Board on assessments and feedback, as well as having the opportunity to sit down and have lunch with the Vice Chancellor.
Alongside BuddyMe, I also trained and competed for the Birmingham Athletics team, worked as a Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) Leader and Coordinator where I facilitated Accounting sessions for first year students, and also found the time to be a representative for the Investment Society. Upon graduation, I was able to represent Birmingham at One Young World – a yearly conference that brings young people from all over the world to discuss solutions in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. As the University’s first ever Delegate at the conference, I had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the brightest minds across the world. It was truly an experience I will never forget.
What I really learned from these experiences was the importance of prioritisation and organisation. Whilst getting involved in activities, I was often balancing it with essays, note-making for exam season and group assignments. Using my calendar, reminders app on my smartphone and the Eisenhower matrix, I was able to stay on top of things whilst ensuring I was not overwhelming myself at the same time.
Describe your current role and organisation
I currently work at Barclays within the Treasury department. In its simplest form, Treasury can be seen as the bank’s bank. So, if areas of the bank are in need of money, it can be received from Treasury, and if the bank generates money, it is kept within Treasury. We help to ensure the bank has enough spare cash, good liquidity, smooth income, and is not taking on too much debt. In my specific role, I work within a team called Asset Liability Management (ALM). We help to manage interest rate risk on Barclays’ assets and liabilities. In plain old English, as interest rates can go up or down, this can influence how much income is generated on our assets and also the cost of our liabilities. To help ensure our income and costs do not move in a volatile manner, we perform certain actions to ensure we are not overly exposed to changes in interest rates.
What has been the most extraordinary or memorable day on the job?
When the Bank of England cut interest rates to 0.25% in March 2020, I would say this day was particularly memorable. Given this was an emergency cut – meaning this was not planned, nor was it expected - it not only threw stock markets into haywire, it also meant that my day job was directly affected. As a business, we had to work very quickly to analyse its impact, of which was work I was directly involved in. For me, this was great. As well as getting greater exposure to senior management, I was also able to develop my knowledge at an exceptional rate.
What one word would you use to describe the University of Birmingham?