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Case Study: Mark Bewsher

Personal details
Degree:MChem Chemistry with French (With Integrated Year Abroad) Profile picture
School(s): School of Chemistry
Year of Graduation:Jun-2011
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Barclays
Job title: Future Leaders Development Programme - Graduate
Occupational Sector: Banking
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I initially worked for HSBC Bank Plc on their Retail Management Graduate scheme, then applied to Barclays when I realised that the scheme I was on didn't offer me the opportunities that I wanted. I had met with some of the recruitment team from Barclays at St. Andrews and had stayed in touch with them. I applied through the regular channels - online application, online testing, telephone interview and finally an assessment centre. It was a very smooth process, in which Barclays kept in contact and offered lots of support. The online application was pretty simple, and the online tests for numeracy and verbal reasoning are also quite standard. The telephone interview requires quite a bit of preparation – this is a key stage to show how interested you are in Barclays and the scheme. Ensure that you prepare how to answer competency based questions – remember that the person on the other end of the phone has to complete 3 boxes according to the STAR approach – make it easy for them. The assessment centre was down at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, up on the 31st floor – great views across London! The assessment day consists of numerical testing, group exercises, a presentation exercise and a 1:1 interview. It was quite a tiring but enjoyable day with 3 other prospective candidates. The HR team that interview you are all part of the FLDP team, and so if you are successful you may find that one of the people you met at the assessment centre becomes your programme manager!
What does your job involve ?
I currently work in UK Retail Marketing Performance on my second placement. In a sentence our team analyse the performance of marketing campaigns in order to improve performance and therefore the return on investment of marketing spend. It's a great placement to see how a marketing department in a top FTSE company operates - from social media, to TV advertising, to email campaigns etc. My first placement was within the branch network in a regional role within Business Banking across Eastern England. I worked on several projects across the region including building a new Business Banking product, implementing new ideas to improve internal process, encouraging uptake of the Bank's internal social network and many more. It was a great placement to see how our network operates and to learn from some very experienced colleagues in business banking (a key profit driver for UK operations).
What are the best bits of your job ?
By far the exposure and nature of the scheme - I am on the RBB Leadership scheme, which gives you 4 x 6 month placements across the business. Barclays is a great company to work for, and it's a really exciting time to be part of the changes taking place in financial services. The rewards package is very competitive, and the people that you work with are brilliant. The graduate scheme itself is not marketed as a graduate scheme - it is a leadership development programme, and as such you are given challenging placements with considerable amounts of responsibility, right from the beginning. The opportunity to move around the different businesses, both here in the UK and abroad make this scheme quite unique - other graduates on my scheme are working in Germany, South Africa, the US, India - literally all over the globe.
Why were you successful?
I did have a considerable amount of retail experience working with customers, from part time supermarket work, managing a campsite in France over the summer holidays, working within HSBC's branch network and working in a HMRC call centre. I also completed a year working in Lyon, France as part of my degree at St. Andrews. This experience combined with language skills and leadership experience in extra curricular activities all contributed to my success in the interview stages. The one piece of advice that I would like to give to all St. Andreans is to be confident in your interviews! - You will inevitably feel nervous going into an assessment centre, but don't let this get in the way of allowing your personality to shine through.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
The analytical skills from Chemistry are highly respected in financial services. My current role is as a Performance Analyst and my logical approach to data analysis and the way in which I challenge the integrity of the data is thanks to my science background. The effort and discipline required to succeed in Chemistry degree is coveted across many different teams. My ability to speak French also puts me in a preferred position for European placements - as speaking the local language & having an understanding of the culture allows you to integrate much more quickly into a new team overseas.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
I really enjoy working for Barclays and feel very lucky to be in the position that I am in. The roles that I have had have given me an excellent insight into the business and will put me in good stead for my future career here. Being part of the FLDP (graduate) intake gives you instantly a network of 100 or so other colleagues who are in the same position as you - new to the company and often fresh out of university. This means that your social life can be quite busy; despite an inevitably challenging work load. Working hours can vary by placement and according to seasonalities in the business. It is certainly not a 9 - 5 role, however there is a strong focus on ensuring that you have a good work / life balance within the company. You will also be expected to go over and above your day role to promote the scheme and work on citizenship activities; this extra work on top can consume your time (although it does tend to be quite enjoyable!).