Sunday, 14 February 2010

I came, I saw, I Cheapsided!


Thanks to the encouragement of Dumdad I have (finally) plucked up the courage to talk about my days in international banking.

Back in September 1990 I joined a certain Scottish highstreet bank (currently in receipt of lots and lots and lots of state aid) as a Graduate Trainee.

I went to London University to read Spanish and Italian...and did so. I enjoyed college so much that I didn't want to leave its safe confines. (I had been spoilt to death...no student loans for me! Rather I had received a state grant and boarded for three years in leafy Hampstead where my college was located.) The last year was SO engrossing that I could barely face looking for jobs in that 'orrible world outside my verdant Shangri-La.

During the dying embers of college days I had begun to think about working for a bank (preferably in the international section so I could use my languages) after all, at that time, banking was THE flavour of the day. Think back to Michael Douglas espousing "Greed is Good" and Maggie Thatcher freeing up those juicy regulated markets...

So, extremely reluctantly, I embarked on a plethora of interviews and further interviews around a few banks. I had also applied to join the international banking graduate scheme of NatWest and had ended up in NatWest Tower, in The City, for a second round interview. NatWest was a very big deal then...one of the biggest players on the UK banking scene. There were lots of would be yuppy grads there (some even wearing red braces...and that was just the girls!). I used to name it "Pinstripe Poker". I recall that the competition was fierce and that despite my best efforts of pretending to be an international banker, in the role play, it still terminated in a debutant's debacle. I think was just "yuppied" out. It felt utterly terrifying and I was completely out of my depth. (I had met a few of these contenders already...they had tended to congregate at King's College, University of London. All their parents seemed to have highflying jobs with international companies. To me they were a breed apart.) That process spat me out in a miserable, lumpen heap.

I got my rejection phonecall, from a chap at NatWest, in the college lobby. I stood there with the phone in one hand. Tears flowed down my face. I remember thinking: "What was I going to do with my life now?"

That Autumn of 1989 found me back at home in Newcastle upon Tyne on a post-grad course in Business Information Technology ("BIT")at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University). I positively loathed it. I had to sign on to qualify to do it. I had completed three quarters of it when I found that I had landed a contract with that Scottish bank's graduate scheme. I had stormed all of the interviews and had even ended up running the meeting (in role play) at their Manchester training centre! So I skedaddled from the "BIT" course and headed elsewhere. I was now free to go and earn my keep.

And so...after having dreaded that my first posting would be in a mobile bank, decked out in tartan, in The Hebrides or The Orkneys or some far flung besporraned place...my first graduate placement came through. It was at the bank's Cheapside Branch in The City of London. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't wait to start. I decided to celebrate by spending my 1990 summer in Andalucia with some Spanish friends.

I flew back to start my first day at the bank. There I was suitably besuited knocking at that huge wooden double front door on that first crispy autumnal morning with a lump in my throat and my right hand encased in plaster....

24 comments:

lakeviewer said...

Salve!
Wow, a latin scholar in the middle of jolly England!

Valete!

Lynne said...

Now you've started, you just have to continue, I hope.
I've enjoyed catching up with you.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

the fly in the web said...

Glad Dumdad prevailed upon you...I'm intrigued about that plaster...if you'd had that for the Natwest interview process you could have decimated the opposition while gesticulating in the idiotic role playing sessions.

Gill - That British Woman said...

that was really interesting, can't wait to hear more,

Gill in Canada

The Dotterel said...

And that (as the say) - the arm-in-plaster - is 'another story'... And when I hope you'll be telling at the same time next week.

I'm sitting comfortably!

French Fancy said...

Well done Dumdad for issuing the prompt and I am so glad you are blogging about this. I love these memory lane posts from my favourite bloggers. I can almost picture every scene including the very sad one with your rejection phone call. You wouldn't have been happy there though.

Each time I see the word Hampstead anywhere I always get a pang of homesickness. Yet every time Mr FF suggests I have a little London break I always decline. Aren't humans an odd bunch

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Lakeland Viewer or rather Salve! I've enjoyed looking at the Italian part of your blog and I'll be over for a further browse some time. Mi piace leggere qualcosa in italiano e mi piacerebbe farlo piu spesso!

Lynne, yes..you are right. I must stick to my guns and do the whole lot in order. I'll do my very best...scout's honour!

Fly...good point. It is ironic really that the Scottish bank ended up buying NatWest. In a bizarre sort of the way I feel vindicated but I'm sure the NatWesters wouldn't considering what happened to the Scottish bank ultimately. I agree with you those role playing sessions are idiotic!

Thank you, Gill, must pop over to have a look at your new look website once again. I'm very impressed.

Hello The Dotterel...I couldn't resist the cliffhanger! I may try and write up the next instalment before the week is out. It all depends on half term...

FF: It was a double blow of rejection and then receiving the message in a very public place. I think I knew in my heart of hearts that the NatWest job was not right for me.

Hampstead brings back such wonderful memories I have an absolutely fantastic time there. We were so lucky to be on that campus (which no longer exists). The college was swallowed up by Queen Mary's in the East End. The campus was bought by King's College and the remainder was sold off to property developers.

The fact that you did not fancy going back there does not surprise me...our memories of places are rarely matched by the reality. I adored being in Spain many years ago but times have changed as has much of Spain. Sigh.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Apologies Lake Viewer...I don't know where the "Lakeland" bit came from...Although "Lakeland Jo" pops across occasionally. Mi dispiace molto!

Dumdad said...

This is most odd: I left a comment last night but it hasn't appeared. Oh well. I think I said something like "this is excellent, look forward to more. Lots more of the same!"

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you, Dumdad...many thanks for your further encouragement. You've also made up my mind about the embedded window effect. I've gone back to the old format. Seems to work better. At least I hope it does in the future...!

Sandi McBride said...

Okay okay...I need to hear the arm in plaster story...I knew you were smart as all get out, being a big time banker didn't much surprise me...but what happened to the arm???
hugs
Sandi

nappy valley girl said...

Ah, the Scottish bank....it's become a bit like 'the Scottish play' hasn't it. The unsayable! I'd definitely be intrigued to hear more....

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Sandi...I'm saving the arm in the plaster bit for the next instalment...can you hang on? ;)

Nappy Valley Girl: Funnily enough I was thinking that as I wrote it. Great minds think (and write) alike! :) (Sorry I'm not a great fan of LOL...purely because we do laugh out aloud anyway. Yes...I know I'm a pedantic old whatsit...)

Ladybird World Mother said...

More please! xx

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

This story sounds vaguely familiar in that I too was a language graduate (in 1976) and, not wanting to be teacher, applied for zillions of jobs includng graduate banking schemes. I had an interview at Barclays in the City, but decided in the end to go for the Civil Service. I am so glad I did not end up in Yuppie Hell. In retrospect I don't think I would have been cut out for it.

Nota Bene said...

right hand in plaster...cool way to make an impression!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Like Lynne, Gill and the rest I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment of "Confessions of a Banker" - the scandal, the lies, the heartbreak. Banking means never having to say you're sorry. Just ask Sir Fred!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Brilliant. The Natwest lot sound very scary, and what a nightmare to begin your first day with your arm in plaster. Ouch. :D

Hadriana's Treasures said...

ADDY: I'm not sure I was cut out for it...I'll let everyone decide once I've finished my story....(!)

NB, YP and Jo....Ouch! indeed. (I like that one, YP. The sorry bit!!!) :)

Troy said...

An interesting post, sorry I've arrived rather late. Cheapside certainly sounds more rewarding from a career viewpoint than a mobile bank in the Hebrides.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Very interesting. Funny how we turn out. we could do with several goes at life.

kestrel said...

goodness you must love languages. It is amazing that you can speak and write 3 very different languages esp Latin. You wouldn't have had many people to pratise the language with. Awaiting the next chapter of you saga..

Sarah said...

Fascinating, where a road takes you, isn't it?
Haven't been by for ages!
Regards
Sarah

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Troy, GOK, Kestrel and Sarah: Hi there! Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you. Part II is almost ready!