Could you tell us what your role is at Triodos and a bit about your career background.

I joined Triodos Bank about seven years ago and lead the Credit Team. As a very classic line of defence team, our role is twofold: policing what the lending area of the bank does and setting policy.

In terms of my career background, I’ve been working in banks since I left school in 1984. I’ve worked for a dozen different banks, in a variety of roles and seniorities, but have specialised in the risk restructuring and control side since about 1990. Over time, I found that I didn’t like being a tiny fish in a really, really huge pool at certain organisations. I also noticed that I really liked the problem-solving element of roles, where I felt like I could make a real difference to real people and the bank at the same time, which I think is what truly guided my career path.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career at Triodos?

After taking redundancy, I wanted to remain in Bristol. I loved the area and had lots of family and friends here. When looking for opportunities I stumbled across Triodos Bank and just thought, you know what, that's absolutely the sort of thing I want to do. It's about sustainability, it's about saving the planet, and it’s very people focused. It sounded like the ideal fit. So, I applied for a job that was nowhere near my speciality. I didn’t win that role, but from that interview, I thought, these people and what they do is really interesting. I kept coming back and coming back. Eleven years later I finally landed this role, my third application I think, and became Head of Credit.

How does the work you do within your role/department contribute to the mission of Triodos?

It's partly about the policing angle when considering who we are lending to. What are they trying to achieve? What are they trying to do? Does it tick on our mission boxes?

We also look at who we’re taking on and spot cases that are a strong mission fit, with impactful business, but are challenging for lenders to structure. We can then support and build the structure using our experience to try and make something which didn’t seem possible, possible.

 

What do the Triodos values of responsibility, freedom and equity mean to you? And how do they influence your role at Triodos?

Fairness is really important. It's really easy in banking to back the big hitters, the ones that have already made it, and leave behind those that actually need the help. I think through our lending, for example, with the responsible finance providers, we demonstrate this. When we can’t lend to the smaller businesses, we lend to something that can, which links back to our other value of equity too.

Responsibility is also an interesting one because it's something which throughout my 39-plus years, hasn’t been taken seriously by people working in a lot of banks. If you look at what happened in the great financial crash, that was about people not being responsible for what they were doing. This really highlights the significance and importance of the value, individually and for the bank as a whole.

 

What do you like/love about the workplace and the people who work here?

Everyone gets it. Every co-worker that you’re talking to understands why we’re here. In most banks, you would understand what you do, you’d understand how you do it, but your ‘why’ would probably be: ‘Well, it’s a job, isn’t it?’ ‘I get paid for it,’ or ‘I might enjoy it.’ But actually, at Triodos, the ‘why’ and what we are trying to do as a bank is much bigger. There are probably a number of people working here who never saw themselves working for a bank, but it was our wider mission and values that interested them. So, it’s that feeling of the mission being shared and just deeply understood that I like.

 

What do you see in the future for you and Triodos Bank?

So personally, my next career step is retirement, I’m 58. I remember when Bevis our CEO rang to offer me this job seven years ago, I’ll admit I was in a pub having a drink after work with my wife. I told him that I was really surprised to be offered this as guy who's over 50. He said that he would rather have somebody with experience, skills and knowledge for five years than employ somebody who'll stay for twenty. That’s an approach you don't get in many places. When I joined, I found that it was everything I hoped it would be after my eleven-year wait; so, I will continue doing what I'm doing for as long as the bank wants me to and as long as I feel happy doing it. Hence, I expect to leave via retirement, but not anytime soon.

For Triodos Bank, even though we are a lot smaller than others, we’re a leader in the industry and have definitely proved that banking can be done differently. We’re not at the dawn yet; green banking keeps evolving. Coinciding with this, I can see us continuing to demonstrate and take our proof of concept to influence others and say, ‘Hey, this actually works, you should do this,’ in order to further our impact.