We catch up with the former Newcastle Falcons and Scotland forward to learn more about his new role working for RPA partner, Barclays.
Clubs: Newcastle Falcons, Edinburgh
Test debut: v Wales, 2004
Test caps: 48
What is your position at Barclays and what does it involve?
I am a wealth manager at Barclays, based in Newcastle. My role is to manage and support personal wealth and help account holders achieve their financial objectives. It’s been a brilliant experience so far and it’s been terrific to work closely with clients, understand what they want to achieve, where they want to use their money and how best to sustain their wealth for retirement.
Can you explain how the opportunity came about?
Towards the end of my rugby career I undertook work experience in a variety of different industries. I had insights into deep sea mining, marketing and financial services, to discover which area interested me the most. Each presented a new challenge and opportunity. Through these experiences I concluded that I wanted to explore a future in finance. I found it very interesting and believed I had the transferrable skills to make it a success. Towards the end of my career I started working part-time for a Newcastle based financial services company, gaining insight as an investment manager. Following my retirement at the end of the 2017/18 season I then started to explore the opportunities available at Barclays. They had just sponsored Newcastle’s ‘Big One’ game at St James’ Park and I spoke to some of their business representatives about the training and career progression they could offer. It sounded like a very exciting opportunity and I organised a meeting with my now current boss to speak through the roles available. He was impressed by the transferrable skills I could use from my rugby career such as leadership, team building and strong communication, and the experience I had built over my career. From there he offered me the job.
How have you found your transition into your second career?
Initially it was tough because you are thrown into a completely new environment. The first six months I worked hard to find my feet and understand where my role sat within the business. It took a little while to feel completely settled and there’s no doubt there are parts of you that miss the daily routine of professional rugby. Thankfully, the Barclays team have been outstanding, very supportive and have given me the chance to build my confidence, observe the business structure and learn to upskill myself in new areas.
What have you enjoyed the most about working at Barclays?
I have really enjoyed the challenge of learning something new. In rugby you’re constantly challenged, in matches, at training, in team meetings, and you learn to develop quickly and adapt to how the team wants to perform. It’s similar in business and I have enjoyed learning how the business operates, meeting new people, gaining an insight into what works for some people and what doesn’t for others. You meet a huge amount of very interesting people from different backgrounds, jobs and careers and it’s been a very positive experience to speak to them and learn how they’ve made their wealth and what they want to explore next.
During your rugby career, you completed the BA (Hons) Leadership & Management degree through Northumbria University, can you touch on the course and how it’s helped you in your second career?
Yes, I completed the degree through the RPA with enormous help from my Development Manager at the time. It was a massive thing for me to do and has helped me hugely. Having left school and progressed straight into rugby, I didn’t have the chance to study when I was young, and it wasn’t until I had started a family that I decided it was time to explore my education. I learnt a hell of a lot throughout the degree that I never thought I would ever have the chance to experience. When I initially started the degree I predicted the whole course would be way over my head and be too much of a commitment, but once I got into the swing of things, I really started to enjoy each and every subject and found myself learning some incredible things. I was never described as the most academic person which did make some aspects of the degree quite challenging, but I did find the time to fit my study in around my rugby career. It was an extremely invaluable two-year experience and one that I can safely say has been instrumental in my move into a second career.
Would you recommend working at Barclays to other players?
Definitely. I think Barclays is a great fit for rugby players. I am a massive believer in trying as many new things as possible and through Barclays, players can pursue work experience and career insight opportunities. They have been extremely supportive of my transition and they have fantastic training programmes and career pathways. They also have offices all over the country so there are plenty of opportunities for players to explore what is available to them, close to their home or club.
Barclays offer RPA members a dedicated banking team as well as career insight opportunities. If you would like to find out more about how they can help, please contact your Barclays representative:
RPA-Mailbox@Barclays.com or speak to your RPA Development Manager.