What does your role entail and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been part of Leeds Building Society’s mortgage product and pricing team for six months now. On a day-to-day basis, my role entails overseeing the society’s residential and interest-only product range.
We review and refine our products on a regular basis, monitoring changing market conditions to ensure the society is offering competitive and advantageous rates to our intermediary partners to allow more people to have the home they want and ensure we are supporting our customers’ needs.
What attracted you to working in the financial sector?
I’ve always been interested in economics and business. Having completed a placement year at university in a financial services role, I knew this was the industry I wanted to pursue a career in.
Product management particularly appeals to me because what I do has a large impact on the commercial performance of the business as a whole. The role is always changing and no two days are the same, so it keeps me motivated and determined to succeed.
What were you doing in the five years before starting here?
At university, I completed my placement year in the savings product management team at another building society. Then when I graduated in 2018, I joined the savings product team at Leeds Building Society.
After two years, I was ready to develop my skills and build on my understanding of the business and I took responsibility for the residential and interest only mortgage products.
What personal talent/skill is most valuable in doing your job?
Strong stakeholder management is important to the role I work in. The rates and products I set have a direct impact on a number of different teams across the business. My role often involves balancing the needs of different areas of the business, while remaining conscious of the perspective of brokers and consumers.
What personal talent/skill would you most like to improve on?
Within my role, I often have to pitch new product proposals to senior management and it can be difficult to get the right balance between being succinct and conveying all of the key features, benefits and drawbacks of a potential product.
So I’d like to really get this down to a fine art in the future.
How has the pandemic changed the way you approach your job?
My role doesn’t inherently require a lot of face-to-face interaction so initially I adapted well to working from home after the UK went into lockdown.
However, it is a lot easier to build and maintain strong working relationships with colleagues when you see everyone in the office as opposed to communicating through phone email and Zoom, so that has been a challenge.
What is the most memorable property case you’ve been involved in?
As a product manager, I don’t deal with individual cases, so I suppose the most memorable property deal I’ve been involved with was my own mortgage.
I decided to buy my first property and took out a mortgage with the Society, shortly after the rollout of our new Mortgage Hub platform last year. The journey from application to offer was really quick and hassle-free.
When I applied, high loan to value (LTV) products were still largely unavailable across the market so I had to stretch my finances and save a little more towards my deposit.
Because of that, it was really rewarding for me to be involved in the society’s re-entry to the 90 per cent LTV product market, knowing that we were supporting other people in similar circumstances to myself.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’d like to continue to progress in product management. The experience I’ve gained in my first few years at the society in managing both mortgage and savings products has been an invaluable foundation to build on.
Over the next couple of years I hope to gain more insights into the development of our specialist lending products such as shared ownership and later life lending.
If present-day you could go in time back and tell yourself something five years ago, what would it be?
If I could travel back to five years ago, I’d invest in Bitcoin.
What’s been your lockdown coping strategy?
Setting up my own office in the spare room has been my best coping strategy because it’s helped me separate my working day from the rest of my life. I can focus during the working day and then close the door and switch off when the working day finishes.
I also enjoy playing golf whenever outdoor exercise is allowed.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve tackled so far in your career?
During the first month of my placement in savings, the Bank of England base rate changed for the first time in seven years. This was not only new to me but to most of my team, and we had to get to grips with it and implement changes to our product range very quickly.
The experience increased my resilience and ability to work under pressure and it’s something I can draw on when I encounter similar situations in the future.
Another big challenge was moving from savings to mortgages at Leeds Building Society during the pandemic. Learning the ropes of the mortgage products brought additional challenges as I was only able to communicate with my team and mentors on email and Zoom.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to speak any language. Communication is one of the most important aspects of everyone’s work and social life so it would be a great gift to be able to communicate with anyone in the world.
And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?
“What chocolate bar would you be and why?” I would be a Mars Duo because I’m tall and I work hard but I like to rest and play.