Claire Brown - Assistant branch manager
Assistant branch manager Claire prides herself on offering a personal face-to-face service at Fakenham branch where she is well known to our members.
When I was at school I wanted to be a prison officer as I felt the empathy and people skills I possessed could be used to help people that needed it. I left school with GCSEs in maths, English, English literature and a few others which I chose only because I enjoyed the subjects. I was not the best student and infuriated my teachers as they said I could do so much better.
My first ever job was in the local chocolate factory, I only went there as all my friends were working there on a temporary basis so I went along with it. The work side didn’t really interest me but the people and daily management side did, it really caught my attention. I progressed to team leader and then to shift manager running teams of up to 140 people at peak times and managing the production on a daily basis. Whilst I really enjoyed my time in the factory I knew it was not what I wanted to do forever.
I had purchased my first home when I was 21 and used the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society (now the Yorkshire Building Society) as it was in my local town. I loved the way the team there treated me and guided me through my first big purchase. Knowing how it felt to become a homeowner for the first time made me realise it was something I wanted to help others achieve and feel. So when a position came up in the local branch I took the plunge (and the pay cut) and went for it. It was the best move of my life! The satisfaction I got from helping my customers get their dream home, save for their big purchases and save them money on things like home insurance really fulfilled me.
After 18 years, I was made redundant when the Fakenham branch closed. I felt devastated and lost. The Nottingham Building Society was looking at moving into some of the closed Norwich and Peterborough branches and Fakenham was one of them. After reading about their ethos of face-to-face service and keeping members at the heart of all they do, I decided it would be a great opportunity to work with them and my local community. So in November 2018 I started with The Nottingham as a part time customer services assistant.
I really enjoyed the role and dealing with members and helping them with their finances. Just five months later, I was offered the role of assistant branch manager of the Fakenham branch and now work full time. It was a huge jump and a really steep learning curve but it has definitely been worth it. Whilst I was happy in the customer services assistant role I always felt that with my industry knowledge, my passion for customer service and my eagerness to learn I could put my previous management experience to good use. I haven’t looked back since. I really enjoy the day-to-day running of the branch, people management, and of course, getting out in to my local community. Most of the town know me from my days as a town councilor and love having The Nottingham on their doorstep.
There are many things that make the role rewarding in so many different ways. I have so much pride in my team, cluster (group of branches) and the branch and feel that 30 years after leaving school, I have finally found my perfect role.
My advice for anyone not knowing what they would like to be when they leave school is to learn what you enjoy and take your time choosing what you’d like to do. We don’t always know where we are heading until we are out there doing something! You will find what works for you, I know I did.
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