Rupert Stevens: Senior product manager at Barclays Premier

Rupert Stevens could have stayed in his comfort zone once he’d left the Army, sticking to roles he had a great deal of experience in – his role in Counter Terrorism at the MOD saw him personally responsible for the management of the only Governmental ‘Global Kidnap Database’, and dealing with a high variety of countries and organisations that required high diplomacy and people management skills.

However, he decided that rather than continue to live abroad and do more of the same, he’d try something completely new and different with a well established brand that would complement and broaden his CV.

In his initial role as a Customer Experience Manager for Barclays, he had the opportunity to gain good, overall knowledge and general exposure of the organisation in a technical role that would be ‘challenging’ and boost his skillset.

Having progressed to Senior Product Manager for Barclays Premier UK &International, Rupert is developing his commercial expertise while creating products that are customer focused, working on Premier offerings that include Premier mortgages.

“Customer-focused products are something of a ‘buzz word’ in the industry now, but it’s giving me the opportunity to work in a new and genuinely innovative area, as well as develop my career.” He adds: “I’m also able to apply what I learnt in my technology position and apply it to this new role.”

Much of Rupert’s day to day activity involves assessing what resources are available to achieve Premier’s objectives, as well as analysing the pressures of the margins and where risk can and can’t be taken, specifically in the mortgage community.

There are also the challenges of arranging meetings on a global scale, a sharp contrast to his time at the MOD where it was far easier to have face to face meetings.

“Inevitably now, it’s phone calls and video conference as the people I work with are based all over the world.”

Leadership and management are invariably cited as valuable transferable skills from the military to take into the commercial sector. However, Rupert has found the team mentality contrasts to that of the military team, which has been something of an adjustment for him. “Individual progression tends to come first, rather than the main effort of the team. It’s been difficult for me to shed what’s ingrained in me from the military.”

Rupert’s Transition Tips

  • On paper, your skills may not initially be understood by non ex-military. So identify and explain them in a way that highlights your employability. For example, ‘stakeholder management’ may be used to describe your work in keeping people to time and budget and managing their expectations. Working with the Afghan Army is a good military example.
  • It can be tricky initially to get your CV past the ‘gatekeeper’ or, more likely, the computer algorithm, so make sure every line is a selling point – what you achieved, how you achieved it, and how you overcame a problem.