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Learning, development, collaboration, and innovation: working with mobile technology at NatWest Group

Our Technology teams are made up from a diverse mix of backgrounds, skills, qualifications, and experience. Together, they’re powering our transformation into the digital bank of the future. Developing innovative, reliable and secure services, which are helping our customers take control of how they manage their finances.

We caught up with one of the newest members of the Mobile Technology team, and also one of the most experienced. We wanted to know about their career journeys so far, what excites them about the work they do, and the culture here at the bank.

From chemistry to technology

Hannah McAloone is on our graduate programme and has had a slightly unusual route to her career in mobile tech.

‘I did a Master’s degree in Chemistry, and I started an internship in a lab but decided it wasn’t for me. Instead, I wanted something that had a bit more growth, something quite exciting, something that was kind of relevant at the moment. And so, I started to look into technology as an area because I felt that a role with a logical skill set suited my background, but this was a little bit of a different angle on it. That led me into like the financial sector with FinTech being such a big thing at the moment, and it’s a sector that’s constantly expanding. There's always something to learn and build on, and things change really quickly, which is what I like.

‘The graduate programme has been really good so far. Even though I’m not from a tech background, the programme welcomes people from all backgrounds. And the training I’ve had in the first few months has been a great way to learn about the industry. It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m enjoying it.’

Building a great engineering function

Principal Engineer Jake Collins is at the other end of the scale in terms of his technology experience. He was recently nominated in the UK Tech Awards as Engineer of the Year, something he’s rightly very proud of, not just for himself, but as an indicator of the great tech work happening at the bank.

‘It's an appreciation of our engineering capability. And I think that's really powerful for what people see from the outside as a financial services company, which isn’t 100% about engineering. Because that nomination is rewarding the fact that we’re doing a really good job in building our engineering function. And that, for me, is really, really big because you want to be recognised for the stuff that you do.’

Jake has been with us for three years, but has a long background in technology. He’s enjoying his current role, working with our AI customer services chatbot, Cora.

‘When I started at the bank, Cora was the only AI chatbot we were developing, but we’ve since gone on to work with other teams to effectively use the technology patterns and the conversation patterns that we’ve created all across the bank. So that we’ve got ‘one bank’ solutions which are clickable regardless of our brands. So we've now got different versions of Cora, effectively, such as our retail banking version, our commercial version, and our internal chat bots as well. It’s been a nice evolution to see an asset that was created initially for one purpose has then spiralled into many different uses.’

A place to be yourself

Both Jake and Hannah value the culture they’re part of here. Jake feels that despite the terrible effects of the pandemic, it’s helped bring the team a little closer together.

‘I work with a whole raft of different people, and that in itself allows you to get that kind of that experience and that kind of understanding of people’s different cultures and backgrounds. And that in turn allows people to be more open.

‘Especially over the past year, when we've been invited into everybody's living rooms, dining rooms, studies, bedrooms in some cases And a lot of that brings the background noise of their families and things like that, which helps drop down barriers a little bit. But everybody's always open to answer pretty much any questions if you've got a problem. People can express themselves here, and we've got a whole load of internal networks for different backgrounds and different circumstances.’

Hannah agrees that she’s somewhere she can be herself and was pleased to discover the support around her from day one.

‘When you come in as a graduate it's nice because your opinion is respected immediately, and you're offered a lot of help. No-one ever says no to anything, and I've not really come across anyone that I've struggled to work with, it's always been a really supportive culture which is really, really nice.

‘I kind of got that instinct when I was thinking about applying; it was one of the first things I noticed when I was at university career fairs, it was something that drew me in. Everyone I spoke to seemed very genuine in comparison to some other companies that I ended up speaking to, and that was one of the big factors for me.’

Fast-paced and varied

In closing, we asked Jake what someone might find surprising about working with technology at NatWest Group.

‘The answer to that question is that we're not stuck in our ways. We've been around for about 300 years, but I’m currently decommissioning a technology which is only four years old, because of how quickly technology's moved on, and because I've got the latest version of that tech available in the cloud. So I think it’s surprising that we move so quickly, and we're using a whole raft of different technologies.’

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