John graduated in Economics in 2001 and was recruited by Lloyds on a two-year graduate management trainee programme. He began work as an Associate in the division now known as Wholesale Banking and Markets, on the Financial Solutions Desk in London in 2003, and attended the Masters in Finance in 2006/7.
At Associate level, around 2005, I felt like I wanted to do more. My learning and career development was going to start slowing down, and needed a boost. I always wanted to do a masters, so by then having secured some valuable vocational experience, everything seemed to align itself. I approached my boss with a request for funding for the Masters in Finance, having thoroughly prepared for the meeting and expecting a really robust debate, but the meeting lasted just ten seconds – my boss said I could do it.
Choosing to do the programme at London Business School was a no-brainer for me as it’s a number one institution, simple as that. As a finance professional, working for a bank, I felt the Masters in Finance was obviously better for my career than a general administration qualification. Studying part-time while working was a real benefit, as I was able to apply each to the other in a symbiotic relationship.
This was a hugely arduous two years, as much for the bank as for me. You’ve got to be eyes-open about what this degree involves. It needs a huge commitment of time to do it properly, as well as an ability to organise your time effectively, combining study with a hugely consuming job and there is no denying that it puts a strain on relationships (I proposed when the finishing line was in sight, and married in December 2007)! However, my company was looking to further my career, and supported me.
In return I showed determination and gained knowledge, differentiation, credibility and ownership of my future career.
My elective modules took a strong steer towards the quantitative side of finance; including Financial Engineering, Options and Futures, and Fixed Income Securities - all of which were of direct relevance to my line of work. However, the lasting legacy is not just about the technical skills, but the ability to train your brain to think in a certain logical way, combined with honing your skills around organisation, time management and discipline.
Graduating with a Masters in Finance allowed me to stand out a bit more from all the other very smart and capable people working in the bank. It’s a bit of a differentiator and in addition to my track record with the bank as a top performer, it gave me the right and the opportunity to discuss my next career steps with the Bank’s very senior management.
Following the Masters in Finance, in early 2008 I was given the opportunity of promotion, to run the Lloyds Mid Markets Risk Advisory business in Scotland, and I definitely benefited from the credentials I brought. I helped build that business and deliver exponential growth, with the skills and experience I gained when working for the Masters in Finance definitely contributing to that success. When Lloyds Banking Group formed, I took the opportunity in late 2009 to move to Leeds to run the team covering the North of England, and having done that in 2011, I’ve now been given responsibility back for Scotland as well.
It was extremely tough, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.