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20 Nov

20 November 2015

Spotlight on … Maria Thomas, FirstPro 2015

“In April this year Maria Thomas, Relationship Manager at Barclays Bank was named FirstPro 2015.”

What did it feel like to win FirstPro2015?

“It never occurred to me I would win so when my name was read out for my category it took me a moment to register. I was completely stunned when I was named the overall winner!

“The support from my colleagues at Barclays was incredible and completely unexpected. By 3am the morning after the Regional Director had emailed me saying how proud he was. His boss rang with congratulations the next day and I even received emails of congratulations from members of the Executive.

“Emails came in from people across the bank and one was from someone I had worked with 20 years ago saying ‘is it you’!”

Which attributes do you think are important in your job?

“You have to be honest and straightforward. I’m open with people and always explain the rationale for decisions. Empathy’s important too. I always aim to walk in my customer’s shoes; seeing things from their perspective can change the approach I take.”

What motives you in your work?

“I love fixing problems and getting it right for customers. I remember a particular customer who never agreed to a meeting, which worried me. One day I said I was passing and dropped in. I asked a few pertinent questions and then listened. He was soon telling me all his niggles and gripes about the bank. I left with a list of problems to fix then produced a plan of action with realistic deadlines. Crucially we then delivered and the relationship’s now great.”

Tell us about you career path.

“I started as an apprentice at Barclays 25 years ago. My first permanent job was in the machine room, tearing statements and putting them in envelopes. The advent of electronic banking means no one does anything like that any more but it really gave me a great understanding of the processes.

“After about a year I was allowed to issue account numbers from an account number book and shortly afterwards was trained to work on the counter. I did spend some time in head office but I missed the customers.

“I joined the corporate banking team about four years ago.”

What do you do outside work?

“I’m always up to something.

“I live in a village and am on the village hall committee. I’m involved in our local panto and raise money for a number of charities.

“As a result of Coventry & Warwickshire First event I’m now working with a number of other Coventry based charities to support with profile and fundraising.

“I’m also on the board of Coventry BID (Business Improvement District). We’re immersed in our plans for Christmas at the moment but we’re also working hard to re-generate the night-time economy in the city and give a voice to retailers.”