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Rising Star: Lauren Whelan, Leeds Building Society

  • 26/07/2021
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Rising Star: Lauren Whelan, Leeds Building Society
This week, Mortgage Solutions is speaking with Lauren Whelan, customer services administrator at Leeds Building Society


What does your role entail and how long have you been doing it? 

My role is all about communication. I’ve been with the society just over a year now after joining the apprenticeship scheme. 

I am the point of contact for members and intermediary partners, after they have started the application process. Often, we are helping to find solutions on complex cases, so I have to have an in-depth knowledge of our criteria and business processes. Being able to help people get to where they want to be in the mortgage application process is something I find very rewarding. 


What attracted you to working in the mortgage/property/finance sector? 

My mum works for the society, so I guess you could say an interest in finance runs in the family. 

The society’s apprenticeship scheme provides the opportunity to develop long term career skills while getting hands-on practical experience and there are always new things to learn. The society has a really welcoming culture which has helped me to settle in and I get a lot of support from team leaders and my apprenticeship coach. 


What were you doing in the five years before starting here?  

Five years ago, I was still at school studying for my GCSEs and then I went onto sixth form to study business. I also took up a part time job with the society in an admin support role alongside my studies. 

I studied fine art and graphic design at sixth form but over the course of my study, I decided that art is more of a hobby to me, while business and finance is where I see my long-term career. 


What personal talent/skill is most valuable in doing your job? 

Communication skills are vital to my role. Being able to listen, ask questions and understand the query is essential.  

It’s also crucial to be able to explain complex information concisely and confidently. When you come across with confidence, it often builds trust, so it plays an important part in the relationship that the society has with members and intermediaries. 


What personal talent/skill would you most like to improve on? 

I’d like to improve my networking skills across different parts of the industry. I’d like to get to grips with using LinkedIn and other virtual networking tools to grow my connections. When it’s safe to do so, I’d like to attend some networking events. 


How has the pandemic changed the way you approach your job? 

My initial training was done in the office in a socially distanced way but as soon as I started taking calls on my own, I moved to working from home which was a bit daunting. However, my team leader and apprentice coach are in regular contact. We have catch-ups on Zoom and Microsoft Teams and we’ve all pulled together as a team. 


What is the most interesting/memorable property deal/case you’ve been involved in? 

I remember speaking to a customer who had applied for one of our retirement interest-only mortgages. She had difficulties with mobility and was looking to move into a specially adapted bungalow. I arranged to send her a large print copy of her offer and I also talked her through the next steps to complete her mortgage. 

I spoke to her again after the case completed and she seemed really happy in her new property. It’s really uplifting when you deal with cases like that, where the specialist lending products we offer are able to help our members have the home they want. 


Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?  

Working in the financial services industry. I don’t know yet where in the industry I’d like to be but the good thing about the apprenticeship scheme is that it gives you an insight into lots of different roles.  

I really enjoy helping people so the prospect of completing a CeMAP might be something I’d look into.  


If present-day you could go back in time and tell yourself something five years ago, what would it be? 

Concentrate on one thing at a time. There’s so much to learn you can’t possibly take it all in at once but if you grow your knowledge a little every day, then by the end of the month you’ve picked up a lot. 


What’s been your lockdown coping strategy? 

I like going on walks. I also started doing socially distanced personal training sessions. I keep in touch with my family through frequent Zoom calls and family quizzes to lift our spirits. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve tackled so far in your career? 

I would say that my biggest challenge today would have been getting my foot on the career ladder for the first time after finishing my A-levels. Initially when I was looking for a job, the pandemic had just begun so a lot of employers were furloughing workers and there was more competition in the job market.  


If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

It would be telepathy. Instead of calling other departments and external stakeholders during the course of my day, I could just float down the answer with my mind. It would also come in handy when I’m trying to find my keys around the house. 


And finally, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked? 

When I was interviewed for my first part-time job while I was still at school, one of the interview questions was to tell a joke. I don’t recall my joke but it seemed to go down okay. I’d done a lot of preparation for the interview but I never anticipated being asked that. 

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