Barclays’ Work Placement Programme: From Army Captain to Head of Risk for Retail Distribution at Barclay’s

SaluteMyJob finds out more about Barclays’ work placement programme for Service Leavers from Nicholas Trowell, a former Captain in the Army who took part in the placement in 2013. He is now Head of Risk for Retail Distribution based in Scotland. Nicholas offers an insight into the programme and tells us why he recommends businesses offer work placement opportunities to Service Leavers.

Nicholas left his role as Battalion's Operations Officer in the Army at the end of 2013. As a Battalion's Operations Officer, he was the lead on all policy, training, development and learning when in Barracks, and when deployed on Operations, he was in charge of the risk and control management of mission planning and execution.

During his transition, Nicholas was looking at pursuing two key industries - Financial Services and Energy. Nicholas heard about Barclays’ work placement programme through word of mouth and completed the two weeks’ placement during the end of his transition period. He said the placement programme appealed to him on “many levels”. Nicholas explained: “During your resettlement, a common thing to do is to complete courses and to try and build your profile through attending those - which is definitely worthwhile but they should not be done in isolation. Having the opportunity to go to an organisation and understand their culture, demystify what it is they do is really important.

“I think a really important one for Service Leavers transitioning is learning how to articulate their own experiences in the context of another industry sector, which has its own vocabulary and own way of doing things. I think lots of people struggle to do that so any time immersed in a business outside of the Armed Forces is of huge value. Whilst I was still pursuing potential opportunities in the energy sector, I saw the placement as a great opportunity all round. Also, I think getting a corporate stamp on your CV adds a bit of credibility and interest as well. It’s a good talking point when you go to interviews and sets you apart from others.”     

You can do courses, but if you really want to understand what life like is in a business, industry and sector, then for me, taking part in a work placement is like gold dust.
— Nicholas Trowell

Nicholas took part in the placement at Barclays’ headquarters in London and said the experience was “hugely beneficial”. “For me, the most beneficial aspects of the placement were learning what a bank actually does, networking, building contacts and learning how to articulate my experiences in a relevant, meaningful way,” he said. Nicholas strongly recommends Service Leavers take part in work placements or similar opportunities during their transition period.  “You can do courses, but if you really want to understand what life like is in a business, industry and sector, then for me, taking part in a work placement is like gold dust. And it doesn’t have to be a big formal one. It can be something Service Leavers can proactively try and set up - almost offering to do job shadowing or shared learning for a day or two.”

Nicholas spotted a role on Barclays’ external job board and applied, starting as an Operational Risk Partner and is now Head of Risk for Retail Distribution, looking after risk management for 1,300 branches and half a dozen contact centres across the UK and the Offshore. He said it helped having done the placement as it was something he could reference in the interview when they talked about motivations for joining Barclays. He added: “I could genuinely say, the culture resonates, I could say I had an insight into the organisation, so it definitely helped but getting the job wasn’t a direct consequence of doing the placement.”

We are very much doing these placements to help Service Leavers in any way we can.
— Nicholas Trowell

The former Army Captain said Barclays is a great place for ex-military personnel to forge their new career as Service Leavers are highly valued. He said: “It is such a big organisation, it is bigger than the regular Armed Forces put together - almost 130,000 colleagues, so, there’s a huge breadth and diversity of roles and opportunities and I think the skills that Service Leavers bring are really valued.”

Nicholas has a key role in delivering Barclays’ Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme with Sue Bomphray. “We have just launched our first placement of the year with candidates from the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy who are spending two weeks in Scotland looking at various business areas across Barclays. Hopefully at the end of the two weeks, the route they would like to take is with Barclays and we can hopefully find the right opportunity for them. Equally, if they come away thinking maybe Financial Services isn’t for me - then that is not lost time. On the contrary, we are very much doing these placements to help Service Leavers in any way we can.”


So why do you think businesses should provide work placement opportunities for Service Leavers?

“From an employer’s perspective, it is about broadening their horizons - having exposure to talented individuals that come from a very different background. And it’s not just a one way. The business can learn from the Service Leaver - having that fresh set of eyes and different perspective.”

To find out more about Barclays’ AFTER programme, go to: