SFE YP BLOG: The Journey of a Firm Representative

Laura Dow is Project Manager, Commercial Banking at NatWest Group and the SFE Young Professionals Firm Representative Lead.

My journey into the wonderful world of SFE YP started just over a year ago when I met Milly Dent, current Chairperson of the SFE YP Committee, at a leadership development event and I knew straight away I had to be involved. 

The opportunity to support the development of others, learn more about the wider financial services industry and network with likeminded individuals was something I didn’t want to miss out on – and what a year it’s been!

What is a SFE YP Firm Rep?

As there was already NatWest representation on the SFE YP Committee, I saw an opportunity to work with Milly to establish a complementary role as the NatWest Firm Representative. 

As it was a brand-new role, it presented a great opportunity to harness the fantastic work of SFE YP and expand its presence within NatWest. The agreed purpose of the role is to:

  • Drive SFE YP engagement within the firm itself
  • Lead on internal promotion and advocacy of SFE YP
  • Increase internal membership of SFE YP
  • A longer-term goal of having a Firm Representative for each of the SFE YP member firms.

This role has provided another layer of engagement for SFE YP as well as increased development opportunities for more driven and passionate SFE YP members that want to go the extra mile.

My experience as a Firm Rep (in a pandemic)

Taking on such a challenge during the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t without its challenges; however, in the first five months, we were able to deliver a series of NatWest-led virtual leadership events which covered everything from ‘Politics in a Pandemic’ to the ‘Importance of Wellbeing whilst Working from Home’.

Organising these events was the first real milestone in my Firm Rep journey.  Due to the success of the newly created role, I’ve worked with several other member organisations to launch an SFE YP Firm Representative network.  The aim is to drive SFE strategies within each key organisation and ensure the development opportunities are visible and accessible to all employees.  The Firm Rep network is now five strong and growing, and the impact and initiatives the representatives are driving within their respective organisations is really inspiring. 

What’s next for my Firm Rep role?

Recognising that along with a busy day job as a Project Manager, I might need a few extra pairs of hands, I set out to recruit an internal Communications Lead to support with shaping our communications approach and the response I had from interested colleagues nationwide was overwhelming!  After interviewing applicants, I couldn’t choose just one and decided to recruit co-leads Ruth Batten and Laura Patterson. 

Our small but perfectly formed internal team now consists of myself as Firm Representative, Milly as SFE YP Chair, and Ruth and Laura as our Co-Communication Leads. We have an ambitious and exciting year ahead for our NatWest colleagues, including Graduate Roundtable event at the end of April with one of our senior sponsors, Barry Connolly, who also leads SFE’s skills & inclusion strategic workstreams.

  • Collaboration options with one of our employee-led networks to leverage our reach and offer development opportunities to a national, internal audience.
  • Collaborating with our Early Careers team to offer flexible learning options to support new graduates joining NatWest.

This is over and above the wider SFE YP Committee’s plans for the year, which you can read about here.

Being involved in SFE YP has opened a lot of doors for me, provided an opportunity to support and develop others as well as myself, expanded my network, and given me deeper insight into the industry that I wouldn’t have otherwise gained. 

For anyone considering getting involved, I’d absolutely say, ‘do it!’, and for anyone interested in becoming a Firm Representative within an SFE member organisation, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Join the SFE Young Professionals Network at this link to receive our latest news and event invites. Further information about SFE YP can be found here.

Published 22 April 2021