From school to Chair of the Scottish Executive Committee at Lloyds Banking Group. A Conversation with Philip Grant.
Philip Grant needs no introduction in the world of financial services. However, for those who are not connected to this sector, you may recognise his name from the signature on the face of Bank of Scotland banknotes. I had the pleasure of speaking with Philip recently, arranging to do so after reading about the start to his career being one accessible through the broad range of apprenticeships available for young people. I was keen to understand how Philip had built such a successful career in the world of financial services starting straight from school.
How did your career start?
When I left my local state school, my dad encouraged me to take time to learn about the working world. I had good grades and a place at university was waiting for me, but instead I secured a job at Bank of Scotland as an Office Junior. Looking back, it was a great growth opportunity for me in the widest personal sense. I was able to develop my skills and knowledge, learn about myself and build my confidence. Over the early years of my career I learned everyday on the job, was earning and attended college to complete my banking qualifications. A perfect balance for me.
The Manager of my first small branch was very supportive and motivating. I remember him saying, ‘you could sit in this chair one day’. I believed him and decided to continue to develop my career through work-centred learning rather than university.
What does a whistle-stop tour of your career look like?
After gaining professional qualifications through college, I was promoted to a larger branch. I enjoyed being part of Bank of Scotland’s team and community at work. This, along with progressive learning and development, was recognised with the success of further promotions. I was valued for how I performed, and opportunity followed. When I was 26, I was offered the opportunity to study for an MBA full-time at university for one year. During this time I learned more about myself as I worked with people from different professions and countries. My career took off again when I returned. I have led a range of businesses across the full range of activities financial services represents. I now run risk for our insurance business and am also the Scottish Executive Committee chair at Lloyds Banking Group. I am the face of the Group in Scotland which also allows me to sponsor today’s apprentices. I am also fortunate to chair the Bank of Scotland Foundation.
The Apprenticeships we are familiar with today sound very similar to your early career. Tell me more about why you believe in Apprenticeships?
Apprenticeships allow my colleagues to invest in themselves flexibly with relevant qualifications and experience that leads to increased competence. We believe that apprenticeships are not just for young people. They also provide great opportunities for those wanting to diversify their career, get back into work, add new skills or progress right through to degree level. As part of Lloyds Banking Group’s Helping Britain Prosper plan, we’ve also committed to providing digital training for 1.8 million people and organisations by 2020. We are always by the side of business to offer advice and practical support to help people and businesses to reach their full growth potential. Our apprentices play a key role in all of this.
These days, many employers say they want Work Ready Young people, what does ‘Work Readiness’ mean to you and what is your advice to young people?
As an employer, it is not realistic to just assume young people will arrive fully work ready or indeed remain so through their career. We have a responsibility to provide opportunity. This means investing in supporting young people with programmes that will allow them to progress and grow in preparation for work, and within work itself. In today’s rapidly changing workplace, it’s a lifelong journey. Lloyds Banking Group is involved in several programmes focused on skills for work, the Schools to work programme, employability workshops available in schools across Scotland and work placements, to name a few.
For me, the success I have had in my career has been a function of opportunity, investing in myself, and being valued for my experience. Be engaged and open, take the opportunities to learn, embrace supporting others, be part of the community that organisations represent, and never underestimate how valuable you can be to those around you. In the world of work, people value what they experience. It’s what brings opportunity. Value yourself, be yourself and keep looking for opportunities to learn.