Simon Brooker (History and Politics, 1999)

Exeter alumnus gives an insight into his career in finance

Simon Brooker (History and Politics, 1999) is Head of Loans Product Owner at giffgaff gameplan. After graduating from the University of Exeter, he has worked in a number of financial areas, including mortgages and commercial and personal lending. Now working  at giffgaff gameplan, we spoke to Simon about his career to date.

Explain your current role

As Head of Loans, I look after our lending provider, managing credit risk and overseeing operational and financial aspects of the lending book. Aside from my day-to-day, I also find time to support the business with Financial Conduct Authority reporting.

What’s a typical day in your current role?

I have a number of “standard” tasks, like reporting and daily management of partnerships, that quickly fill up my weeks. Elsewhere, my time is often spent on a number of projects that look at new ways we can utilise new banking data to help make better lending decisions. I do get some more exciting tasks too. When things go awry and fixes need to be put in place immediately, I’m required to act quickly when working with partners and internal teams to find solutions. 

Finally, I’ll also spend a lot of my time is putting together our lending strategy over the medium to long-term

How has your career developed to get to where you are now?

I’ve worked in lending for quite some time and in a number of sectors. I’ve been involved in Mortgages from both a Commercial and Personal lending perspective, as both a lender and as a broker. Over the past few years, I’ve worked on a number of new projects where companies are looking to launch lending propositions. These experiences brought me to giffgaff's attention, allowing me to land my current role.

Any exam revision tips?

Cut the task in front of you into manageable pieces. Significant assignments can be daunting, so breaking it down can provide you with some perspective. Start by writing your revision notes in full and gradually reduce the volume. By the end of your revision period, create index cards summarising all that knowledge. These will help minimise rafts of information into just a simple sentence.

What experiences have you learned from during your career?

In 2008, the global financial crisis provided me with the biggest challenge that I have had to overcome in business. I was working in lending at the time and the world changed very rapidly. Despite the tough times, it brought to the industry and our customers, I learned that persistence, grit and determination were the basis of long-term success. I’ve taken those experiences with me throughout my career, and it’s something I often draw on when times are tough.

What advice would you give to others starting their careers?

Don't be afraid to ask questions. People often think they’re weak if they’re unsure about something, but it happens to us all. If we were all more willing to communicate our issues we’d develop much quicker and solve problems with much more efficiency. As an extension of that, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Take time to find out who you are as an individual, what drives you and where your strengths lie. Self-analysis is tough, but it can really help you identify gaps and develop them.

Date: 21 May 2018

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