Category: Industry News, WORKPLACE, Transformation, responsibility, project, remote working, complaints
Bev Clarkson is a Senior Project Manager for Barclays’ Advocacy Transformation team, based in Leeds. She lives in Mirfield, West Yorkshire with her husband Damian and their dog Zara. She talks to us about problem solving, remote working – and getting up early to feed the horses.
My alarm goes off at 6.30am, but that’s not because of work. I skip breakfast, which I know is naughty, so that I can go first thing and feed my horses who are stabled five minutes away.
I work from home about half of the time and the rest of the time I travel 45 minutes to our office in Leeds. I’ve got nobody on my direct team in Leeds, but we’ve got a wider advocacy transformation team around the country, so whether I’m at home or in the office I’m in a way working remotely. On a day where I’m at home, I’ll deal with the horses early in the morning, then I’ll come back, and I’ll crack straight on with work at about 8am.
My job involves responsibility for overall leadership in projects that result in transformational change. I work with a lot of people from different locations, from Liverpool to Northampton to Coventry. Because I’m working virtually, it seems like I’m speaking to people all the time, managing expectations and getting things in order.
Advocacy transformation is made up of Programme and Project managers, Business Analysts, and other change roles, and we’re responsible for delivering transformational change projects within our complaints processes. Within Barclays, there is a key focus on customer and colleague experience. Barclays also has a wellbeing vision. That’s another way dynamic working fits in: your workplace and your working life contribute to your wellbeing.
I’m currently working on a regulatory Payment Protections Insurance (PPI) project. We’re introducing a PPI checker, making it easier for customers to check if they’ve ever held PPI through Barclays.
Through our web pages, we’re introducing a short form where a customer can get a quick result to tell them whether they’ve held PPI with us. It’s a much shorter process than the one customers go through at the moment. It’s a big programme with a number of different project managers, and my key deliverables within the programme are the changes to process for our telephony and branch colleagues, and the creation of a new postal process.
I lead the whole process from inception to when the project goes live. There are peaks and troughs in this role. You find that when you’re very close to delivery it becomes really busy, and everybody pulls together which creates a buzzing team atmosphere, and that’s exciting.
I started working for Barclays after college. I’d been travelling and temping, then got a temp job for Barclays in 2001 and I’ve been here ever since. That doesn’t mean I’ve had the same job or even been in the same sector. I started in HR, but you can form a career in Barclays moving between all sorts of things. I’ve also been a mortgage advisor and worked in mortgage operations before deciding I wanted to work in a change environment.
Previously when working in operations, I had very set nine-to-five office hours. My current job has a very different feel. It works really well for me because of the flexibility, and working from home means that at busy times I don’t have to go through a 90-minute commute – instead I can put in that time on the project without impacting my work/life balance.
My average day tends to be similar whether I go to the office or not. I rarely have face-to-face meetings due to the fact my colleagues are based all over the country, but I’m on the phone a lot. We might have a video conference too, using the virtual tools we have to keep in touch. It’s great to have such good relationships with colleagues even when I’ve never actually met some of them!
Because of the spread of locations, it’s not as if our team can meet up after work for drinks, but I’m social with Barclays people within the Leeds area – and that’s a good thing because I’ve become friends with a wider group of people who might be working on totally different things.
My best day at work was also my most difficult day. We’d identified an issue within the project and I was on calls to colleagues from six in the morning. But, worried as I was, by the end of the day we’d solved the problem and we knew there was going to be no customer, colleague or business impact. The sense of relief and achievement at resolving that situation made it a really good day.
The most difficult part of my job is managing expectations. Quite often you’ll get senior stakeholders wondering why we can’t deliver something immediately – but there are often complications with technology, compliance, process where it takes time to resolve issues and ensure we have mitigated any risks. The way I work round that is by being honest, preparing stakeholders for this and managing expectations.
The thing I love most about my job is the variety. I speak to so many people in so many different roles over the course of a day. Also, I can clearly see how I personally can make a difference and a contribution to the priorities of a huge organisation with so many colleagues and customers. It really motivates me and makes me proud.
Working in PPI, we see customers getting in touch because something wrong has happened in the past. But what I have to focus on is how to put things right. We’re really trying to make things easier for customers and I see a real shift in priorities.
In my job, I feel like I am given the tools required, and that I can really make a difference; that I am really contributing.
I’ll finish work at 5pm, then go back to the horses, maybe for a ride. Then I come home, cook tea for me and my husband and I might watch Coronation Street.
I like my sleep, so I’m usually in bed by 10pm. I love to read, but if I pick up a book and get in to it then I’d be reading all night and wouldn’t get any sleep, so I save reading for holidays.
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