Graduating into a career at OakNorth – meet our 2022 Graduate alumnus

We’re all for growing the best talent from within, and this includes starting with our entry level graduate roles. We launched our Graduate Rotational Programme in 2021 with the aim of finding some of the brightest talent interested in a career in fintech. Our programme gave them the opportunity to support several different teams in the bank and apply their skills in areas of work that they may not have been aware of when first looking for jobs.    

With glowing reviews from the teams they supported, we sat down with some of our superstar graduates Amanda, Tom, Ore, and Max to hear about their experience. 

What did you study at university and how did that influence your decisions for what you wanted to do after graduating?  

Tom: I studied Philosophy at Warwick University and after graduating I was still unsure as to which field of work I wanted to go into. This led to me apply for different internships and graduate programmes, including one at OakNorth. Through this experience I learnt that I wanted to work in finance.

Max: Economics at University of Exeter. I thought that I would go into a more traditional finance role because of my degree, but the opportunity of joining a fintech neobank really stood out to me. 

Ore: I have two master’s degrees; my first in Accounting and Finance from Queen Mary University of London and a second master’s degree in Technology and Innovation Management from Brunel University. After graduating, I wanted a role that allowed me to marry what I had learnt with hands-on experience in the software engineering industry.

Amanda: I completed a master’s in Business with Consulting at Warwick University. The consulting course in particular gave me a structured and high-level way of thinking. As a result, I was considering jobs that would benefit both my short-term and long-term career goals.  

What made OakNorth’s Graduate Rotational Programme stand out?  

Tom: When I left university, I was still uncertain about what exactly I wanted to do for work. But for those in a similar position to me, the OakNorth Graduate Rotational Programme stands out because you get to experience many different functions of the bank throughout the programme. After working in each of these functions, you are able to make a more informed decision on what you would like to pursue. 

Max: I initially did an internship during lockdown and when the office reopened, it made me want to join full time as the difference in learning and personal relationships I gained was really significant. The horizontal nature of the bank gives me the opportunity to learn from people much higher up than in a traditional organisation.

Ore: I loved the rotational nature of the programme as it provided an opportunity for me to experience every aspect of the bank. 

Amanda: It’s a rotational programme, and when I applied to join, we were offered 6 months in 4 different areas, which attracted me a lot. I think for people who are in their early careers, it’s important to explore more and see what they like. And this programme gives young professionals this opportunity. 

At the same time, it’s a very flexible setting. Everything is possible if you fight for it. I can have catch ups with anyone in the company and get to know what they are doing to help me decide if I’d like to explore their department further. You can also express your interests in what department you would like to try on your next rotation and also the permanent role you would like to be offered.

Can you give us an overview of a typical day as a graduate at OakNorth Bank?  

Tom: One of the great things about working where I do, under Jules Di Mambro in the Finance team, is that there is a wide variety of work. Earlier in the year, I was coordinating with many different functions of the bank on potential investment and acquisition opportunities, and more recently I’ve worked closely with the CFO, Rajesh Gupta, and the wider FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) team for the Bank’s financial projections.

Max: Usually, I have larger projects that I will work on over a longer period of time, but on a typical day, I would be working towards my projects and supporting tasks for the Treasury department. My most recent long-term goal was helping zero-base the deposit raising capacity approach for the bank.

Ore: My day starts with checking my schedule for the day and looking at if there is anything outstanding on my to-do list from the day before. I have quick catch ups on group projects to align on the direction of the projects and get cracking on my to-do list for the day. There is a cup of tea at about 1p.m as I don’t enjoy coffee!

Amanda: I get to work with senior people every day and by going to meetings I learn and observe a lot. I make sure to ask lots of questions – people are always happy to help. I’ll also have catch ups with colleagues from different departments to better understand their work and to find out more about their career – this has been a really useful benefit of the Graduate Rotational Programme as I am able to ask my colleagues for advice on career development. 

What was the most valuable thing you learnt on the Graduate Rotational Programme?  

Tom: Learning how the different departments work, as it has allowed me to understand and communicate with these departments when working with them from my current position more easily.

Max: How much people are willing to give their time to you at OakNorth to make assimilation into the bank seamless. I then found it very easy to approach people for work opportunities throughout the department.

Ore: To not be afraid to ask all my questions as that is the fastest way for me to learn.

Amanda: Never be afraid to ask for people’s help – not asking them to do it for you, but I wasn’t afraid to ask for guidance on how to do things. Reaching out for advice can save you a lot of time, can help you understand things better, and will help you build stronger connections. I also always ask why we are doing a certain task – whether it’s asking yourself or the line manager. You have to understand what processes are for and to try and see the logic behind it. 

What new skills have you developed from your time in the Graduate Rotational Programme? 

Tom: Working in the Finance team has taught me how many financial planning processes work, and I’ve developed my collaboration skills so that I now help to coordinate and align the different departments involved.

Max: I’ve mainly developed my analytical skills from the Graduate Rotational Programme. My presentation and Excel skills have improved significantly throughout my time here. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn a bit of Python which showed me the power of learning to code.

Ore: Definitely social skills! 

Amanda: Trying to see things from the customer’s perspective being able to use technology better. 

What part of the team you are joining permanently really excites you?  

Tom: The people. The members of the Finance team have been very welcoming and great teachers.

Max: All the new opportunities in the Finance division and the continuous learning given to me through everyone in the finance department.

Ore: The perspective we get into all aspects of the business, it gives me an appreciation of the work that each person puts in daily.

Amanda: The ability to see how banks work from a financial perspective, the strong link that finance has with all other parts of the bank and the idea of making decisions based on numbers.  

We pride ourselves on having a flat organisational structure, where every single employee feels empowered to speak up, share ideas, and challenge the norm. It’s what gives us the passion to excel together. We therefore designed the programme with the goal of finding the best talent and giving them a great start to their career in fintech.

Ioana Navarra, Associate Director, People Team at OakNorth said 

“We launched this programme to find amazing graduates who could bring a fresh perspective on how to innovate, automate, and apply ingenuity across key areas of our business as we look ahead to the future of OakNorth.

The graduates have worked on a variety of projects, gaining a wealth of diverse experience through rotations across key business areas, including finance, operations, credit and portfolio management, people operations, risk, and regulatory affairs. They are given the opportunity to manage projects and interact directly with senior leaders. Each of the graduates are unique in their own way and have provided a valuable contribution to the business, so we’re delighted that they have decided to stay with us as they continue to build their careers. The “One Team” culture really differentiates the bank, and I cannot thank my colleagues enough for being so involved in supporting early talent as they grow into their professional journey here at OakNorth.”

From graduate roles to senior managers, we’re a bank with a flat structure and an open mind for working together in the most collaborative way. If this is the way you like to work, check out our open roles.

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