Branching Out. Where could a career with Ulster Bank take you?

One of the hardest things about applying for new jobs is the uncertainty. From the outside, looking in, we find ourselves wondering:

What’s it really like to work there? What about the people and culture? If I go down this road, where will it lead?

Well, there’s no way of knowing for sure. But we can give you a good sense of what a career at Ulster Bank involves, by talking with someone who’s already on that journey, and has developed in many different roles.

Martin Murphy has worked at Ulster bank for just over 14 years. In that time he’s moved from being a temporary Customer Service Advisor to Regional Operations Manager, supporting the performance and strategic direction of a whole branch network.

I spoke with Martin about his experiences, and about what truly makes Ulster Bank a great place to develop a career.

Careers in our Branch Network

Rob: Hi Martin, could you tell us a bit about your career journey with Ulster Bank so far?

Martin: Sure. I first joined as a temp back in 2003, while I was still at university. After I graduated, a permanent job came up in our York Street branch, so I went for it. Since then, I’ve had roles in several branches around Belfast, and in that time I moved from being a customer adviser to a deputy manager, and then to a branch manager. In 2014 I was given the chance to manage our flagship branch in Belfast City Office, which was an amazing experience. I was there for two and a bit years, before I took on my current role as Regional Operations Manager.

Rob: Moving from branch to branch, did you find that the culture stayed the same, or does every branch have its own unique character and challenge?

Martin: Definitely the latter. Every branch I’ve worked in or managed has been exciting and challenging in a different way. They’ve been in different parts of Belfast, had a different customer base, and different people and team dynamics.

On the positive side of that you get a new learning experience in every branch and there are so many fantastic people I’ve had the opportunity to learn from, work with and support along the way. When I started managing branches, every one I went to was a new opportunity. My role was to help each branch improve, and to get the best out of everyone. In every case I met people who had amazing talent and potential, and just needed a bit of direction and encouragement.

That’s where my successes have come from, and I couldn’t have helped in those branches, without having both great managers to support me and people to work with who were open to new ideas and wanted to succeed.

I was fortunate to have strong mentors around me from an early stage of my career, so I really wanted to give that back. In fact the most rewarding thing in my whole career has been the amount of people I’ve been able to help develop their careers and get promoted themselves, whether within the branch network or beyond.

“The people we get to work with everyday are what makes this organisation a great place to work.”

Rob: Of all the branches you’ve worked in, is there any one you’re particularly attached to?

Martin: I’ve got a real soft spot for all of the branches, but I’ll always have a special fondness for our York Street branch. It was the first branch I worked in as a permanent member of staff, it was also the first branch I managed. I also absolutely loved my last branch, in Belfast city office. I was very proud to manage our flagship branch, and just being able to work with so many people from different age groups, different levels of experience, and different views of life, was fantastic.

Branch banking has definitely changed a lot since I started here. We’ve seen the growth of digital banking, and our customers now have a wide range of options for how they can interact with us. But the fundamentals are the same – we still have the same customer base, and we still have to make sure we’re looking after our customers’ needs in the best ways possible.

A new strategic challenge

Rob: Could you tell us a bit about your current role?

Martin: I work on delivering our key strategic priorities for our branch and telephony banking network. That means making sure we’ve got a clear set of goals, that we’re working in the right way, and going in the right direction. As someone with a lot of branch experience, I also give my steer on what would work well in our branches. Some of what I do is about contributing to our wider strategy, but it’s also about making sure that strategy works on the ground– hearing from our people about what’s going well and what needs work.

It’s a brand new role, and things are still evolving, that’s what’s exciting about it. A lot of questions have landed on my desk that, at first, I didn’t know what to do with – but identifying the people who are there to support me and help me find the answers has been really rewarding . I now have a massive network of colleagues across NatWest and RBS which I didn’t have before.

Rob: Do you still get to work directly with your front line branch colleagues?

Martin: Yep, very much so. I still keep contact with all the branch guys. I try to get out to our branches as much as I can. And making sure I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on, and what challenges are out there, is something I want to challenge myself to do more.

To be honest I do miss managing people directly, it’s what I loved about my past jobs. But I have a wealth of experience to offer now in a mentoring capacity and that’s something I really want to explore.

Why choose Ulster Bank to develop your career?

Rob: For people who might be thinking about applying for a new job. Why would you say Ulster Bank is a great place to develop a career?

Martin: Because we take career development seriously, right from day one. We have a tailored development programme for all front line roles. So from the outset, when you join us, it’s not just a job – you’re on a career path, focused on developing expertise around the different ways we can support our customers. At the heart of it all, people genuinely care about each other here, they want to see you do well and help you do well. That was very apparent from the day I joined and it still holds true now.

Rob: Last question Martin, what advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a role here or looking to develop their career?

Martin: One of the things I always ask people who’ve recently joined is ‘what do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?’ It sounds like a cliché, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who haven’t thought that through. I think it’s a really powerful thing to go away and do. Being clear about what you want to achieve will save you so much time, and make it so much easier to get there. That’s my biggest piece of advice. Have a think about what you actually want to accomplish and ask how Ulster Bank can support you to do that: make sure you’re aware of all the opportunities and support that’s here to help you along the way.

Where do you want to be in 5 years time?

If you’re looking to develop your career in a supportive and friendly team culture, why not explore career options at Ulster Bank today?


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