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Alice Jones, 22, works in the Vulnerable Customers and Accessibility Team, based at 1 Churchill Place at Canary Wharf in London. She lives in Greenwich, London, with her partner. She tells us about gaining a first through Barclays’ degree programme, being known as the “scams lady” – and her Fitbit obsession.

My alarm goes off… at different times every day! I know that sounds like the weirdest thing, but I never set the same alarm time from day to day. Someone once told me to keep your brain active you shouldn’t have a set routine. So my alarm can go off anywhere between 6:30am and 7:15am, depending on my workload.

The first thing after I’m up is a cup of tea. And then I can’t function without watching the news. I have to know what is going on in the world. Then I don’t really talk until I get to work and I don’t eat my packed breakfast until I get there. I like walking to work because I live close by in Greenwich. Similar to my alarm, I try and take a different route every day so my brain isn’t switched off. To be honest, my routine is to not have one! Plus, I’m now obsessed with my Fitbit, so if I’m lagging behind on my steps I make sure I take a longer route the next day.

My job involves… working in a really exciting team called the Vulnerable Customer and Accessibility Team. Our work is about helping those in vulnerable situations and my part of the team works on identifying and protecting customers who are more likely to be victims of fraud, specifically scams. It’s a really distressing time if you’ve been scammed, and as a bank we have an opportunity to stop those customers from falling victim – only 5% of scams are reported.

There’s a range of work we do to support this like colleague awareness – that’s working with our colleagues across the business to help enhance their knowledge and understanding of what tools are available to help them have those conversations with customers. We also launch new processes, and provide training for in-the-moment support for potential victims of a scam, which allows our colleagues to talk to them, reassure them and put protective measures in place. The amount of money and emotional detriment – which is the most important part as you can’t put a price on that – they’ve saved our customers is fantastic. Anyone can be vulnerable at any time in their life, it just depends on the situation.

A recent project I worked on is banking protocol, an industry-wide process, which is about working with the police to make sure our branch colleagues can refer scam cases there and then. Elsewhere, we have some other really exciting work.

I got the job… in September 2012, as soon as I turned 18 and finished my A-levels, so I’ve been here five years now. I wanted to go to university, but that was the year the fees were increasing to £9,000 a year. My mum came across the Barclays Management and Leadership Degree Programme and told me about it. I researched it and it sounded absolutely up my street, so I applied and got the role. Two weeks after my 18th birthday I moved out of home and I started in a branch in Birmingham as a cashier. You work full-time and get your degree paid for at the same time. You also fast-track through different parts of the branch network. Every six to eight months I changed roles, so I carried out a range of positions, alongside my degree. I was a moment banker, in operational roles, took part in a project about launching new counters into branches and was then part of the management team.

I gained a lot of practical experience in those three years and I graduated from Anglia Ruskin with a first. As part of my degree, I did my dissertation on older people and technology in banking. I got in touch with the people in my team now at Barclays, as their job fascinated me. When the job opportunity appeared, I had to apply. I’ve been here 18 months now. My dissertation really helped me get the job I’m in because it showed I had a genuine interest, I knew what I was talking about and did a lot of research into it. It stood me in great stead for what I’m doing, especially as I have the branch experience, so I’ve done it, seen it and know what the challenges are. Today I have no debt and I’ve got a first-class degree – without going to university. All my friends hate me! They all say they wish they did something like this.

My average day… involves talking to people from across the business. Every day is different. Looking after our customers is firmly on the agenda. It’s everyone’s business across the whole company and my job means I could be talking to fraud strategy one moment or front-line colleagues the next. Everyone knows me as the ‘scams’ lady and I’m one of two in the team made up of my manager and me. My projects vary, so depending on what the focus is, my days also vary. There’s a lot of computer work, developing training tools and a lot of project management.

I normally eat my packed lunch at my desk while watching the news, as there’s a television in front of my desk. One time I was working at my desk and it was when the Barclays digital safety campaign had just launched. My manager had a few radio interviews, but she didn’t tell us she was going to be on BBC News. So when I looked up, I was shocked to see her on TV!

My best day at work was… when I graduated from the degree programme. Barclays organised a big ceremony at Westminster, which was attended by my director and MPs. It was a nice show of support and a great way to celebrate the end of an era.

The moment my first project here, which lasted six months, went live was also very satisfying. Then hearing the feedback, knowing that it worked and that people felt supported, that’s the best feeling – the days you finally see the success of your work coming together.

The most difficult part of my job is… that every day is genuinely different. There are some things you can’t prepare for. Sometimes you’ll get a new project that comes in at industry level, like when we’re working with the police. So sometimes you’ve planned out your project timelines and something else will come in, meaning you’ve got to reshuffle and reprioritise.

The thing I love most about my job is… knowing that you’re really making a difference and touching people’s lives. That’s the best part of it, the real people stories. My job not only has an effect on the emotional impact of scams, but it’s also got a real business element to it. The philosophy is: this is how we should be doing business, felt across Barclays as a whole. I also like that our floor is quite jazzy! I just like being around people and our area is for hot-desking, so you meet people across the business.

If I wasn’t working in this role… I would definitely want to do something that has a customer benefit as well as a business benefit, that’s good for everyone. Something that was about shared growth – good for Barclays, good for society. I get a lot of reward from my job, so my next job would have to deliver the same amount of satisfaction and be working with and around people every day. When I was growing up, however, I wanted to be a spy…

After work… I like going out and seeing friends. I also volunteer at this charity called South London Cares a few times a month, which connects younger professionals with the elderly. It combats loneliness and isolation for the older people, and for the younger people it builds up skills like confidence and conversational skills. As a volunteer, you can invite the charity’s clients to see where you work, so I organised a social event here at Barclays where we showed them photos of old branches and archive adverts, virtual reality, coding and 3D-printing.

I eat out a lot. But my partner used to be a butcher so he’s a great cook, while I do the washing. I need at least seven hours of sleep – it’s really obvious if I haven’t slept properly!

Find out more about a career with Barclays Find out more about a career with Barclays
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