At Redwood Bank, our people are firmly at the heart of everything we do. We understand that when you, our customers, work with us, you want and expect a personal relationship to enable quick decision making and flexible solutions. This is why we’ve taken some time out to speak to the people that power Redwood Bank.
Tracey Lester, Head of Human Resources
You would have thought being Head of Redwood’s Human Resources team during a pandemic would be enough to keep anyone awake all night, but Tracey Lester is as cool as a cucumber. Here, she looks back on how she navigated the team through lockdown, ensuring everyone remained positive.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A walk. During the pandemic I began exercising during the time when in normal circumstances I would have been travelling to the office. When we had that spate of lovely weather it was a great way to start my day as I strolled down by the canal while listening to music.
If you were not doing this what would you be doing instead?
I would be somewhere very hot that has a white sandy beach.
How did you end up in banking?
A large percentage of my career has been within the financial service sector, but Redwood is my first role within banking.
I was completely sold about joining the Redwood team when the Bank’s CEO Gary approached me and told me all that I could achieve if I accepted the job.
What previous experience did you have before joining Redwood?
My background has always been within Human Resources in financial and legal services. My main experience is with small start-up companies and helping them to build up their HR teams.
Over the years I’ve worked all over the world, including New Zealand and Australia and before I started in HR, I was a holiday rep for two seasons in Corfu.
What has been your proudest achievement with Redwood to date?
It is difficult to put my finger on one, but it has been fantastic to have been involved in building the team up from seven to almost 90 members of staff!
What’s the best part of your job?
That no two days are ever the same. As the Bank has grown and continues to expand, there are always opportunities and challenges to overcome and seize. We are yet to reach the stage of consistent business-as-usual, which is sure to make life even more interesting.
Do you think COVID-19 has changed the way people think about work and their job and if so, how?
Yes, I think so. Feedback from staff both in person and via surveys has highlighted how people felt comforted knowing there was certainty and security when it came to their job.
Our staff have enjoyed spending more time with their families while working from home and appreciated the flexibility afforded to them.
My view is that people will consider what is important to them personally when looking for a new job role in the future. I think the way companies have treated their staff will be testament to how many people remain with them post COVID-19.
What other HR challenges has COVID-19 presented in the last few months?
We’ve seen an increase in workloads across the Bank and there’s also been a greater demand for people to connect with their teams virtually.
There’s also been a big focus on health and wellbeing, which was particularly important during lockdown. We made sure we connected with our staff as much as we could as we noticed people felt a greater sense of collaboration during the initial stages of the pandemic. Also, we wanted to try to prevent social isolation and job insecurity, while boosting morale.
Everything we did had to take into account the elements that tend to enhance our culture too. The next challenge is acclimatising to a hybrid working environment to make sure we achieve the same connection, community, collaboration and innovation whilst working across split locations, such as the office and our homes.
What keeps you up at night/anything on your mind?
Nothing really, I am able to switch off most of the time.
What three people, dead or alive, would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
My Dad (for one last conversation); George Benson (for his music) and Brad Pitt (no further explanation needed)!