Paul graduated in Mechanical Engineering in 1995, and spent five years working as a mechanical engineer before moving into the world of derivative sales with the National Australia Bank in 2001. He joined Lloyds late in 2004, spending two years in large corporate derivative sales. He had been in the major corporate foreign exchange team for a year when he started the Masters in Finance in 2007, and was promoted to head up the large corporate team for the London and South region as the programme began. He completed his Masters in Finance in 2008.
Lloyds is good at investing in its staff, and my line manager suggested I should enrol for the Masters in Finance. I didn’t have a spectacular education in my engineering background – I felt I had underachieved at university – and I didn’t have a professional finance qualification, so I quickly came on board. I work in an extremely specialised part of finance and so I wanted a financial qualification that would complement this. The Masters in Finance lets you get down to the finer points of the topics you choose, in much more detail than the MBA and so it was the perfect choice for me.
Doing the programme part-time is incredibly tough. I had a one-year-old child at the time, so I wanted to be at home with my family, but you just have to get on with it.
We wanted a second child and had to think carefully about timing, so our second child was born after I’d graduated.
Commitment to the programme is considerable. I had a team to manage and am hungry in my career, so I feel very proud to have got through it. My advice to anyone else considering the part-time option would be to make sure that you’re prepared and go in with your eyes open.
Knuckle down, you’ll get through it – if you want the end goal, you can make it work and it is well worth the effort.
There are benefits to the part-time programme too – I managed to hold down a job and get paid at the same time! Also there’s a good sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the course. I was in a tight network of friends that I still keep in contact with today – it’s a great comfort to know that they’re there should I need them.
I was already successful, doing well at Lloyds, so I was absolutely amazed at what the programme gave me – much more than I had expected. It made me significantly better at what I do and just completely changed my approach with clients; suddenly I could talk about their wider financing needs and I had much more empathy with the finance professionals we deal with. It made me better able to communicate, becoming more effective and ultimately allowing my career development to continue. The Masters in Finance gives you a framework for looking at financial problems, a logic that programmes you to simplify the thinking, grasp new concepts and see the wider perspective.
Now, my team and I look after a significant number of the Bank’s Mid Markets relationships in terms of financial risk management, from Nottingham southward, encompassing London and Birmingham, and dealing with businesses with a turnover of between £15m and £500m.
At Lloyds, our whole model is based on trusted risk advisors helping and supporting our customers and getting good results for our bank. There’s a lot of negative press and perception around banking right now, so we have to offer a high-quality service provided by people with strong skills – mine were definitely enhanced by the programme.
In fact, I haven’t yet used all the skills I now have but I’m confident I could turn all my skills to many financial roles if I had to, because of my experience on the Masters in Finance. It gives me a greater sense of security knowing that I could diversify more than others who haven’t had that exposure.