Chairman Marcus Agius is spearheading Barclays participation in Make a Difference Day, organised by UK charity Community Service Volunteers (CSV).
Marcus has participated in volunteering programme (new window) for the fifth year running.
As part of the firm’s partnership with the UK’s Social Mobility Foundation, Marcus volunteered with a group of high-achieving sixth form students from lower-income families to help them sharpen their business, communication and personal skills.
The 15 pupils are due to enter university in the next academic year, and have all expressed interest in a career in banking and finance.
They were invited last Wednesday to the Boardroom at Barclays global headquarters at 1 Churchill Place, where they divided themselves into two groups each to prepare a presentation for Marcus – one with reasons for banks to accept recently proposed banking reforms, and the other with reasons to reject those reforms.
With the support of volunteers from Barclays Public Policy, they worked in their teams to analyse the reforms proposed by the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) and their implications for banks in the country.
Before the students started their presentations, CSV Make a Difference Day gave the pupils insight into Barclays history and his role as Chairman.
He also shared his thoughts on the global economic outlook and underlined the role banks play in society: “Banks have a real social purpose. What banks do is make things happen – they move money, they enable businesses to raise capital, and they enable people to have mechanisms with which they can save.”
To equip them for their presentations, Marcus offered the pupils some background on the ICB’s final report.
He also shared tips on delivering a good presentation, emphasising the importance of drawing conclusions based on solid evidence, and being clear and concise.
These were qualities the team arguing in favour of the reforms showed in particular, which helped them to win the debate: “It is very difficult to decide which team did a better job, as the issue of regulatory reform is very complex, even for people who are experts. However, some of you were sharper and more concise, and that is key to a good presentation.”
Students quizzed Marcus on a range of topics over lunch, including his career path and the most memorable experience he has had as Barclays Chairman.
CSV Make a Difference Day left the students with some thoughts on the skills needed to succeed in the workplace: “You need to be educated, intelligent, and ambitious – which all of you are.
“But as you go through your lives, one of the things I want you to bear in mind is the importance of integrity. Throughout your careers, integrity and credibility will help you get on with the people you work with, and it will help you to persuade people that your analysis of any situation is the right one.”
Summing up her experience, Natasha Adu, a Year 13 student, said: “Today has given me a chance to learn more about financial services from someone who is a respected leader in this industry.
“I also learnt to be more confident in a formal setting, and as I’ve had to work with peers I’ve never met, I realised the importance of working effectively in a team.”
David Johnston, CEO, Social Mobility Foundation, concluded: “Barclays has been one of our key partners since 2008 and we want to see this relationship grow.
“We want to continue to leverage the skills of Barclays employees, who have helped young people across London to improve their employability by organising internships and running interview skills workshops.
“By acting as mentors, Barclays employees can really make a difference in young people’s lives.”
Barclays participation in volunteering programme (new window) is part of the firm’s CSV Make a Difference Day, which encourages colleagues to give their time, energy and skills to support the next generation in developing enterprise, money management and life skills.
The campaign runs until Saturday, 5 November.