A career-defining idea: Q&A with Young Banker of the Year 2005 Audrey Connolly
What was your idea?
The theme of Young Banker of the Year 2005 was the Bank of the Future. For me, the key thing was recognising that banks are big organisations and they have lots of silos and front and back office departments which don’t generally talk to each other. I looked at what would make a difference in the future, and where organisations would get a competitive advantage. My winning idea was about having much more collaboration between departments and across that white space.
Did you progress your idea after the competition?
It’s an idea that I’ve used throughout my career, either in managing change activities across different areas or solving problems. A lot of my work involves solving problems and I tend to do that by engaging across different areas – getting all the right people together into a room and having a conversation with all that input. I do think you get to a quicker outcome and you get to a better outcome if you’ve got all those perspectives. Instead of operating in a silo, I’ve always looked across the organisation and I’ve taken that with me throughout my whole career.
What did you do next?
Winning Young Banker of the Year gave me the opportunity to look more broadly at the industry. I moved from one of the smallest banks in the country (Clydesdale had about 5,000 people at the time) to one of the biggest banks in the country. HBOS was an organisation with 60,000 people, and it became Lloyds Banking Group two years later. Going to a bigger organisation gave me more scope in terms of opportunities.
What would you say have been your key achievements?
One of the big things I was able to do was become the Head of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) Operations. So I was responsible for effectively building the PPI operation that dealt with the PPI crisis in 2011 and that that was massively challenging. In my current role, I am now helping to close down that PPI activity, following the claims deadline in August 2019.
I’ve also become very involved in inclusion and diversity. I think Lloyds Banking Group in particular is at the forefront of leading the way on inclusion and diversity. I’ve had the great privilege of leading one of our diversity networks. I run our Rainbow Network, which looks after LGBT+ colleagues, and I’ve done that for coming up to eight or nine years.
This has allowed me to play a really active part in how we’ve developed our inclusive culture. I’ve also been instrumental in supporting the organisation to become the top financial services employer in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers ranking.
Audrey Connolly is Head of PPI Programme at Lloyds Banking Group and runs the bank’s Rainbow Network. In 2005, when she became Young Banker of the Year, she was Programme Director at National Australia Group and running a change programme at Clydesdale Bank.
Find out more about 2020’s Chartered Banker Young Banker of the Year competition, which is now open for entries. Please note: submissions must be received by 26 March.