Afam Sadiku - Customer Relationship Management
"It sounds a bit cheesy, but had I not joined Barclays at 17, I doubt I’d have opened even half the doors I’ve been able to."
Posted 5 months ago
I’ve always believed in the importance of staying well-connected. From keeping in touch with old friends to expanding my network in the office, the more connections you have the more opportunities you’ll find to learn and grow. That’s why the Barclays graduate programme stood out to me – I discovered that I could step straight out of college and begin learning from colleagues across the business, and the world, who would support me from day one.
For me, life at Barclays has been centred around working together to create a supportive and inclusive environment – both inside and outside the office. So, when we needed to adapt to working from home, we took this in our stride and found new ways to support each other, just from different locations.
Working in HR as a Programme Manager on the Early Careers team in New York, I’ve been right in the middle of managing the change to our graduates’ working lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With the situation changing daily, Barclays began sharing daily communications to ensure all colleagues were kept up to date and made aware of our global networks and resources, which could offer additional support. For me, I found these communications provided a sense of clarity in an uncertain time – and although Barclays couldn’t give us all the answers, the consistent messages showed that help was on-hand whenever it may be needed.
As my team is spread across the world, we are working closely together to ensure all Barclays employees have the information they need. But it’s also been important to remind ourselves that although we are supporting the business, we need to take care of ourselves too. So, we started to share news of how we are getting on while working from home. Seeing photos of our colleagues spending quality time with their families, taking up new skills or just enjoying a well-earned rest, has served as a reminder that despite the challenges, we are still thriving. Here, it’s not all about work – we are keeping our spirits up by celebrating each other’s achievements, no matter how small, just as we would in the office.
Physical Distancing, Not Social Distancing
To continue connecting us globally, Barclays recently hosted a virtual panel discussion. Here, senior leaders from around the world joined external experts to explore how we can continue fostering our supportive and inclusive environment. I found it particularly interesting to hear from the external keynote speaker and Organisational Psychologist, Sir Cary Cooper. A key moment was when he called out the distinction between physical distancing, which implies distance in spatial terms, and social distancing, which implies a lack of social connection. Although the term social distancing is being used across the world, he emphasised that, right now, we need to be more socially connected than ever before. We merely need to keep our physical distance.
Another comment that stood out to me was spoken by one of our Managing Directors, who represented our multicultural network, Embrace. As he spoke about how we are all dealing with added stress, he encouraged everyone to reach out if they needed help, in whatever shape or form that may be. Whether it’s related to work or home, we know that all our virtual doors are wide open. It was reassuring to hear this consistent messaging – we are, and will continue to be, there for each other on every step of the way.
Expanding my Network
Although communications have increased in recent months, networking and staying connected isn’t something new to us at Barclays. As a graduate, I joined Barclays’ multigenerational network – Emerge – which connects colleagues of all ages from across the business. During lunch and learn sessions, webinars and collaborative events, as part of this network, there is something new to learn from every interaction. So, in 2018, I decided I put myself forward as Co-Chair of the Americas to help introduce others to our community. Being able to play a key role in creating networking opportunities gave me a great sense of pride – and this extended outside of the office, with many new connections quickly turning into friendships.
Now, when we need to be connected better than ever before, I’ve felt our supportive and inclusive workplace shine through. From every local update to worldwide webinars, we are coming together as one global team. I can’t wait until we can come together in the office again, but, until then, I know I’ll be supported and encouraged to thrive every day.