Sharmeen Rahman shares her top tips and experiences from a 10-year career at Lloyds Banking Group.
I was bought up in East London and am the youngest of six very loud, but lovable, sisters. I achieved good academics during school and was headhunted by a charity as I'm from an ethnic minority living in an inner city. The charity helped me secure an internship with Lehman Brothers pre-university - this was a pivotal moment in my career. I was successful at Lehman’s due to my strong end-of-placement presentation which led me to secure further summer placements at Deutsche Bank and UBS where I learnt so many valuable skills.
What did you want to be when you were at university?
Alan Sugar’s apprentice - I am so serious! I love the idea of having to think outside the box and the fact you don’t know what task you will face each week – it’s pure adrenaline and I love it!
Why did you choose to work at Lloyds Banking Group?
Its strong brand. The fact they were a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics is amazing. Lloyds Banking Group is very supportive of development - my manager found me a mentor and backed me during my accountancy exams. Lloyds Banking Group also strongly promotes diversity, a topic close to my heart!
What surprised you about your role, or the organisation, since joining?
How fast Lloyds Banking Group constantly changes to its business environment. It gives me the assurance that we are constantly realigning our strategy in order to remain competitive and help Britain prosper. There is also a strong sense of community here. There is a misconception that banking is just work, but in reality what makes work great is the people you get to work with. Work is always better when you’re laughing.
What have you discovered about yourself so far?
That sometimes you need to take that risk. Learning from mistakes is your biggest teacher in life. I learnt to constantly challenge myself, that’s the best way to gain valuable skills. You want to say at the end of the year, ‘”My name is Joe Bloggs and I did XYZ this year” - you'll gain a real sense of achievement.
What are your strengths and passions? Do you use these in your day-to-day role?
Strengths: Imagination and determination. You may be surprised I said two non-numerical skills even though I work in finance! My manager constantly supports me to be innovative. I’m also constantly thinking about how I can change the way things are done. I have simplified several processes to date and have received awards for doing so. I also apply my ‘can do’ attitude to embrace the constant business changes the sales team faces.
Passion: The Digital Age! I love the way the world is changing: digital banking, social media, apps & virtual reality. You can do so much now and transport yourself into virtual worlds. I also love theme parks, water parks, escape rooms, animals and travelling. Basically anything that has fun in it!
I am a strong advocate of Women in Banking. My dad was always supportive of his six girls being invincible in anything they choose to do - I continue his legacy.
How would you describe the culture and working environment?
My department is brilliant. We are hard working and always help each other if workloads need to be managed, or concepts need explaining. However we work hard and play hard! We have daily huddles and great social events too (we did the mannequin challenge at the Xmas do!).
What does day-to-day look like in your role?
It’s a mash up. My day involves generating P&Ls for front office, project work for streamlining operations and as I liaise with several stakeholders (traders, sales people, relationship managers) there is always a new request that comes in - it definitely keeps my brain trained.
What has been your main highlight while working at Lloyds Banking Group?
- My Financial Director has selected me for the Finance Female Talent Leadership programme for 2017, in order to get women into senior positions by 2020. I really cannot wait for it to commence; I will attend masterclasses to develop my career and present to the Chief Financial Officer at the end of the programme!
- I have also been listed in a high profile 2017 publication for being an inspirational person from an ethnic minority
- I was ranked 7th in the world for my CIMA accountancy exam
- I am honoured to feature in this article!
What would you say to any students unsure if Lloyds Banking Group or Banking and finance is right for them?
A job description on paper is completely different to reality; do not let it make up your mind. The social network generation is a blessing, so I would reach out to people who work in banking to ask for their opinions. Read job profiles of colleagues who work here already. You don’t need to be numerate to be in banking, there are graduates with degrees from Arts to Zoology who are successful. An internship would be amazing to get onto to give you practical insight so you can see for yourself what different areas are like. I never thought I would get into my internship or banking, but I did, and since then I have faced so many good challenges. Challenges have made me reflect, grow and be successful today. If you don’t try, you will never know.
What piece of advice/top tips would you give to students looking to secure an internship or grad role with Lloyds Banking Group?
I have been there and I know how its feels, therefore my advice:
Be your own cheerleader and walk into those assessments with belief that YOU CAN DO IT. Expect the unexpected so it doesn’t throw you when it comes to interviews; however, interview practice is key. It’s not just about the technical’s that will get you in; it’s about being whether you can apply yourself with that ‘can do attitude’. If I can do it, so can you! Given that… I’ll see YOU at Lloyds Banking Group ;) #YOLO
Interested? Find out more about Lloyds Banking Group's internships opportunities.