Supporting the digital transformation of one of the UKs largest banks in the face of new, disruptive technology may not seem ‘cool’ to everyone, but that’s exactly how enthusiastic software engineer Ashley Patricks describes his role at Lloyds Banking Group.
Having already worked on a number of proof-of-concept projects – including an in-branch interactive touch-screen wall to help better inform local homebuyers and exploring voice commands for online banking – it quickly becomes obvious when speaking to Ashley that his day-to-day tasks are far from ordinary.
“Every day I’m working with cutting edge technology on cool experiments, which test hypotheses aimed at keeping the bank competitive, anticipating technology threats, shifting customer expectations and capitalising on new opportunities.” Ashley explains.
His career choice was no accident, either. He’d been “computer and technology mad” as a child and his interest in the financial sector wasn’t far behind, with a particular focus on how technology shapes the industry and is used by banks and customers. It was almost inevitable, therefore, that the two areas would come together to form Ashley’s future.
“I did a degree in Computing – specialising in Software Engineering, and as a graduate I wanted to jump right in at the deep end with the big players and become fully immersed in it all. Lloyds felt like the right place to do that,” he says.
And with digital transformation at the heart of the Group’s philosophy, an increasing number of graduates are naturally gravitating to its forward-thinking culture and agile environment. It’s no wonder Ashley chose to forge his career with the bank’s Digital division, which he joined in 2013 on the graduate programme.
“Group Digital provides a two-year programme,” he continues, “which enables graduates to develop the skills required to lead digital developments in the finance sector with a focus on proposition development, e-commerce, and fraud and security. I think it’s imperative that we not only invest in digital, but also in people.”
And when it comes to leading digital developments, Ashley is someone who takes the proverbial ball and runs with it. In his roles as a developer and software engineer, he’s worked in teams that require a uniquely diverse skill set.
He says: “It’s very broad – we’ll have research, design, development, analysis and consulting. It’s all used to de-risk business strategies and decisions by running rapid, efficient experiments. Essentially, we test-drive tomorrow’s banking so we can build, inspire, motivate, and drive competitive advantage. We explore emerging technologies and trends in order to inject new energy into the business.”
Ashley’s success is testament to his passion. In just two-and-a-half years he’s accomplished an overwhelming amount with both the Public Websites and the Innovation team, especially at a proof-of-concept level. Among his many achievements have been creating an interactive Hackathon automation ‘Hack-Kit’ Box which allows colleagues and partners to rapidly develop prototypes and ideas, and the ‘Money Talks’ project, where the team experimented with voice-commands for online banking.
For Ashley, teams like Innovation are helping to catalyse the digital transformation at LBG. “I work with some amazing personalities who certainly work and play hard,” he enthuses. “The environment is buzzing with innovative culture, collaboration, fun, great equipment and resources. Most importantly, there’s a level playing field when it comes to providing a platform for colleagues to air their thoughts, opinions and ideas.”
Ashley envisions an equally-buzzing future: in a world where technological advancements move so quickly, his main challenge is to stay up-to-date with emerging tech, anticipate where things are going, and even strive to shape its direction.
Ashley’s mind-set is one that can be aspired to, where your job is much more than a desk and a pay cheque. It’s about work as a philosophy; thinking and acting big; and it’s about doing your own little bit to help shape the organisation and industry you work in.
“Financial institutions can come up with all of the innovative products and awesome technology that they like,” says Ashley reflectively. “But if the market doesn’t adopt them, then what are we really achieving? That’s why experimenting before launching a proposition or product can be so important. I’ve started to notice trends as I observe different people interacting with technology, and it’s helped me to be more sensitive to an even broader range of customer needs.”
Digital disruption is inspiring the bank to create better and faster services that are even more essential to the everyday lives of customers. To achieve this though, LBG relies on the very best people who not only understand the FinTech landscape, but are innovating its future – including Ashley.
“I’ve realised customers are the driving force behind everything we do, and that’s something the business recognises too,” he adds.