How we earned it – becoming a Director at OakNorth Bank

In 2019, Greg Manson and Max Saidman joined the OakNorth team as Associate Directors of Debt Finance following successful careers at mainstream banks. They were drawn to OakNorth for its unique approach to making lending decisions, and they wanted to be a part of this change going forward. After their first year at OakNorth, they spoke about what the ride has been like so far for them, sharing how the vision of the bank matched their ambitions and gave them the space to grow.

Fast forward another 18 months to March 2022 and both Greg and Max realised these aspirations with promotions to Debt Finance Directors. We caught up with them about the changes to their role, the freedoms they have in choosing the direction of their work and how they’ve stepped up to take on a senior position.

What was the difference in the step up of your role from Associate Director to Director?

We gained a lot more autonomy to structure deals and present them to the credit committee without having the oversight of Directors. With this comes a higher level of responsibility, and it’s something we are both conscious of throughout the process of putting together a deal. The position, rightly so, does come with more pressure – particularly to ensure balance sheet growth through new lending and existing relationships – but this is to be expected with the step up to a more senior role and we find it helps keep us accountable making sure we’re meeting high standards.

By becoming a Director, this also came with more leadership expectations for the wider debt finance team. Building upon the management responsibilities we had as Associate Directors, we now have an even more important role in supporting and guiding our wider team of Analysts, Associates as well as Associate Directors. In stepping up we aim to be an example to others and to help them achieve their own success in their careers – it’s something that OakNorth is really enthusiastic about supporting.

What actions did you take as an Associate Director that contributed to earning your promotion?

Simple – we both delivered good new lending opportunities. For 2020 and 2021, both Max and I lent a combined c£330m – this number now exceeds £500m with the inclusion of 2022 Year to Date.

Specifically, Greg has also really honed in on his specialist sector knowledge by undertaking the MRICS qualification and becoming a Chartered Surveyor in 2022. Having senior members within the Debt Finance team with these specialisms only improves the way we can help the businesses that approach us for loans as we’re able to offer our customers a highly unique service.

How did OakNorth prioritise career internal growth for you and how did they help you progress to the next level?

OakNorth supported us as Associate Directors to originate new business and be creative with structures to deliver solutions for our clients. The driver for both of us was to grow the balance sheet prudently in order to deliver financial outcomes for the Bank. OakNorth is a great place for people that have this ambition and work ethic and the Bank will support with career progression if you’re willing to put in the effort!

Has the way you work with members of the Debt Finance team changed since your promotion to Director?

The great thing about OakNorth is that it is a very collaborative environment with no divisions between levels of seniority, so the way we work hasn’t really changed too much. We are mindful that we want to lead by example as much as we can and help more junior members of the team achieve their own professional objectives through development. There is very much a ‘one-team’ mentality that we all believe in which results in OakNorth delivering excellent outcomes for our clients and the wider economy through job creation, new homes and social benefit.

If you like the sound of a bank that loves to reward its rising star talent with internal progression, check out our current vacancies and start building your career with us.

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