Like many millennials, my degree didn’t fully prepare me for where my professional life would take me – which, so far, has been a career within the investigations department of a bank! Studying International Relations, I had a good understanding of financial sanctions from a political or macroeconomic perspective and I could discuss economic sanctions, trade barriers, tariffs and restrictions at a higher level, but what it meant for a business at the granular level I was yet to find out. I enjoyed using analytical skill to assess the effectiveness of governmental or economic policies in real life events that impacted thousands of people, and I knew had a passion for justice and people. However with a degree like International Relations it can be difficult to know exactly what job you want to go for, because there are so many potential paths to choose.
How it all began
Back in 2016, I joined the Starling Customer Service team as part of the Passport to Starling scheme. This scheme starts you in customer operations before allowing you to choose if you want to grow into another area of the bank. It’s a great idea. In general, customer service gives you a really thorough understanding of the product and the customer in question, which you can then take with you into another role. Most companies wouldn’t encourage such a sense of mobility between a contact centre role and the rest of the business, but Starling really sees and understands its value. During my time at Starling, something I’ve noticed (and liked) is how readily ambition is encouraged and championed here.
By December 2016, Starling was preparing to launch its current account to new customers and was establishing its fraud investigations unit, which I thought could be very interesting for me in the future. One evening after a Customer Service shift, I was making a joke to my boss Patrick (Head of Customer Service Operations), that in five years time I wanted to be the head of this new unit in Starling Bank. Julian our Chief Operating Officer happened to be walking past, and I was prompted to repeat my private goal – and I was amazed and excited that my statement was followed by the response “let’s see what we can do to make it happen”.
What’s involved in a role in investigations? I like to think of our team as similar to Sherlock Holmes, without the tweed jackets or the need to put ourselves in unnecessary physical danger. We protect our customers from misuse of their accounts or cards by monitoring data for unusual activity and conduct investigations when needed.
Finding the one
It wasn’t a completely straightforward route to this career path. I’ve had a number of roles whilst I’ve been looking for the one that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. Prior to Starling, I worked as a Private Equity Research Analyst. My role was to deliver impartial market intelligence to my clients in order to add value to their investment opportunities. I enjoyed extracting and finding information on poorly documented industries and learning from experts in their fields. There was definitely an investigative quality to the role which I enjoyed, however, I felt I wanted to use my strengths and skills to contribute to a wider sphere and impact ordinary people.
I’ve not only been given the support I needed to join Starling’s investigation team but when I also decided in February 2017 that I wanted to learn more, I enrolled for a course run by the International Compliance Association. Starling fully supported me and allowed me the time I needed to study. This is only the beginning, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and I owe a lot of it to Passport to Starling for giving me this opportunity.
For those that are also looking for the career path that’ll motivate them every day, here are the tips from what I experienced and learnt.