The variety of a banking career

It’s the 21st century, and today there’s a plethora of different careers to choose from. So many in fact, that sometimes it can all seem a little daunting. Do I take a job in retail? What about technology? How about hospitality, teaching, journalism, medical science, the armed forces, stand up comedy, construction, or should I open a cat café?

I don’t know about any of those careers, but I do ‘know’ someone who’s had a career spanning 25 years in banking. Terry Robb, the now Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank, talked with me about the diversity and dynamism of his career.

‘It wasn’t something that I planned to get involved in. In my early twenties, I saw a job advertised for Ulster Bank, so I thought “well, I’ll go for that, it’ll do me until I get back to university again the following September.” But I met a really good group of people, and I really liked working with them. I really liked the bank as well, and I decided I’d continue working rather than go back into education.’

Like many before him, Terry hadn’t planned on staying with the bank permanently. But it wasn’t long before he saw the opportunity to forge a vibrant and successful career with Ulster Bank.

‘About two and half or three years working for the bank, the realisation hit me that there’s a fantastic opportunity to build a career here. And so I went onto work in various leadership roles across commercial banking, retail strategy, back into manufacturing again, into personal banking, and then headed up a private banking team for Ulster Bank.’

Banking is a varied career choice

It sounds like a constricted term, ‘banking.’ It gives the image of someone sat behind an old, oak desk in a stone building. But in actual fact, banking is an incredibly varied career choice that gives people the option to take on exciting new challenges, in a variety of different business areas.

‘The bank has given me a wonderful growth opportunity to go and learn about business, to learn about credit, to work in strategy. So many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d entered another industry and done potentially the same job every day without a lot of change. I’ve been really, really lucky to have some great leaders who motivated and encouraged me.’

‘A great example is Aiden Thornbury, who quite often people name tag at Ulster Bank as a leader with everything we aspire to be. He really showed an interest in people, both in their personal and professional lives. He was very trusting of his team, he gave people lots of opportunities, and he set stretched goals for everyone. He was also very protective of his team, he wouldn’t let anyone ever talk down to them, and I really like that. I’ve always tried to bring that team mentality with me to any new role.’

Passionate leaders

The passion of these leaders is measurable in the way they relentlessly push and progress the career goals of their people. Ulster Bank is passionate about development, and believes there’s a potential leader sat in every chair. Much of the executive leadership team are people who have climbed through the ranks within the bank.

‘Someone once said the team around you should be so good that you nearly make yourself redundant. Not that you want to do yourself out of the job of course... but that means developing them. I think a lot of it has to come from the individual, but as leaders we really have a responsibility to deliver for those people, to really understand where they want to get to in their career and to help them get there.’

It’s clear that Terry has the passion. But how does someone walking through the door on the bottom floor really make an impact?

‘I see this as my business. My father is self employed, my brother is self employed, all my friends and family are self employed, so I really try to bring that mentality about it. We are the people who serve customers, all of us together are the bank. I take customer service very seriously, and I like to see Ulster Bank held in a really high regard. And whenever we do let customers down, I really try to learn from that so it doesn’t happen again, I view it as my business, I’m emotionally attached to it. It’s my business, it’s my name above the door.’

We are the bank

Ulster Bank is an ever changing organisation, constantly adapting to new technologies, innovations and initiatives. Throughout his career, Terry has seen the bank go through many highs and lows, with never a dull moment in between.

‘I see more creativity in the bank now than I’ve ever seen. We live in very exciting times in the changing ways in which we service customers, and how we’re making banking more convenient. I love that culture, I think we can do so much more if the staff are more empowered. I’ve made life long friends working here, and Ulster Bank has given me wonderful opportunities. I would say to someone starting tomorrow, to ask themselves every day, “What sort of team would this team be, if everyone in it was just like me?”’

If you can answer that question positively, then Ulster Bank is the career choice for you.