We are pleased to announce the names of the 8 semi-finalists who will be competing in the upcoming live semi-finals in Birmingham and Edinburgh. Four contestants will go forward to the final at Mansion House, in London, on 10th September.
The Birmingham Semi-Finalists are:
Paul joined The Royal Bank of Scotland in 2005 - pre financial crisis, after completing SQA Highers. He has accumulated experience in several divisions across the bank, recently taking on a secondment as Capability Partner to build Agile Capability across Personal Banking. From 2014 until 2018, Paul was Senior Implementation Manager for Commercial & Business Banking, leading a team to deliver a portfolio of projects which contributed to the successful launch of the European Commission mandated 'Business Banking Switch Scheme'. Prior to this he worked on several innovative change projects including the design of the proposed Williams & Glyn challenger bank, creation of a sector strategy and the development of a new Business Branch proposition. He has also held multiple frontline and leadership roles.
Paul is a keen learner and having recently completed various Professional Qualifications, he is now working towards Chartered Banker status with the Chartered Banker Institute.
Stuart McLaren is a Corporate Relationship Director at HSBC UK. His role involves managing client relationships and executing debt transactions in support of investment, acquisition and restructuring requirements for clients across the North East of England which have revenues ranging from £10m - £350m per annum.
Having left school at 17, and opting to go straight into the workplace, Stuart spent 4 years at a local IFA firm before joining HSBC in 2010 where has remained ever since. He has progressed quickly through a number of roles, starting out as an inbound call hander and working his way up to his current role which involved a relocation from Edinburgh to the North East of England.
Stuart believes his success to date has been driven largely by a passion to delight customers.
Outside of work, Stuart enjoys spending time with his family, including Fiancé, Julia and his daughters Aimee (5) and Emilia (1).
Nika is navigating new horizons for the banking industry in a key leadership role at RBS Group, leading the Climate Change agenda, risk framework and strategy, in response to the Bank of England’s new regulations on Climate Change. Nika has 15 years global leadership experience within Europe, USA, Middle East and Africa. Nika has a track record of successful delivery of leading technology and Digital innovation projects, driving products from inception into scaled solutions. A leader in Agile culture and methodology she is an expert at breaking down silos and radically increasing cross collaboration. Nika’s earlier career was spent in private equity, leveraged finance and commodity deal origination and transaction across all sectors.
As a successful independent venture capital investor and entrepreneur, Nika adds value as a mentor in the high growth/scale up sector. Nika is also Chair of the NatWest Women’s Network Senior Leadership Committee and launched diversity initiatives across the bank. This included collaborating with the NatWest Entrepreneurial Accelerator Hubs to create tailored Digital platforms to enable women who took career breaks to successfully start and scale their own business. Nika is an expert within the social enterprise and plant-based sector space with decades of experience in the ‘ethical/green/eco/plant-based’ niche. Nika spends her spare time leading global humanitarian projects and training in boxing whilst working to rehabilitate the sick and disabled volunteering as a Pilates instructor.
I currently work as an Analyst within the Retail Distribution division of CYBG, providing management information and insight to the wider business. My primary focus at present is investigating how customers interact with the bank through online aggregators and the ways in which we can further improve their experience.
I only started my career in banking in December 2018, but already I am finding it immensely rewarding to work directly on projects that have a meaningful impact on how customers interact with CYB and ultimately shape how happy they are about money.
Since graduating with a BSc Economics degree from the University of York in 2015, I have worked in the Automotive and Insurance sectors (and as a kayaking coach for pocket money during university!) In my spare time I enjoy travelling at home and abroad, tinkering with all forms of technology and real ale.
The Edinburgh Semi-Finalists are:
Shabir is a statistical modelling professional who is passionate about the use of analytical tools and the scientific method to illuminate real world problems.
Having being awarded an honours degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Glasgow in 2011, Shabir embarked on a PhD project. This was a collaborative project between Honeywell Inc. and the University of Glasgow. The goal of the PhD was to apply experimental and theoretical physics techniques to solve problems faced by engineers.
Subsequently, Shabir went on to work as a Statistical Programmer in the Pharmaceutical industry, analysing clinical trial data
Shabir joined the Sainsburys Bank Credit Risk team in 2017 as a Senior Modelling Analyst, and has worked across a number of high profile projects within the organisation, including working as a lead modeller in the redevelopment of the application scorecard suite for Argos Financial Services.
In his spare time, Shabir Volunteers with ‘Move on’ in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which mentors and supports vulnerable youths, and he is a keen runner.
Henry Shuen is a highly motivated individual, currently working as a business and data analyst at RBS. Having been awarded an MSc in Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh, he has a real passion for combating sustainable issues, specifically climate change mitigation. He conducted a Carbon Audit for the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and proposed a District Heating Business Plan for the Heriot-Watt University Campus. He wishes to, and is pursuing, a career combining the use of data with the world of Sustainable Development. He was brought up in Hong Kong where he was a volunteer for the World Wildlife Fund. Currently living in Edinburgh, he has fundraised for various charities, including the British Heart Foundation and M.E. Association and is an avid sportsman. He plays for Galaxy Scotland, a local touch rugby team, and also enjoys playing football, squash, wake-boarding and bagging munros across Scotland.
Sarah Walker is a Branch Director for Santander. Sarah’s banking career started 9 years ago when she was just 18. Sarah started with Santander as a customer service advisor and has worked in many different roles across many different locations. Sarah is very passionate about helping people and this was her reason for joining the banking sector. Sarah was inspired to try and make a difference to people’s lives and help whichever way she could. Sarah is the Women in Business lead for her region and this is something that Sarah is extremely passionate about, Sarah feels that Women should empower other women and this is something she strives to achieve in her workplace and amongst her colleagues.
Sarah currently lives in Bristol with her Fiancé Luke and is very much looking forward to getting married in July. Sarah is a keen football supporter and enjoys travelling around the world on holiday whenever she can.