Tatenda grew up in Zimbabwe. He relocated to the UK 6 years ago, where he has gained most of his higher-level education.
Having graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University, where he gained a degree in Accounting and Finance and a Master’s in economics and Finance, a career in financial services was a natural progression.
Since joining the Programme in September, Tatenda has been on placement with Propel Finance, so we caught up with him to find out what attracted him to the Programme and how he’s been getting on so far.
Tell us about your background…
I have always been an active person since I was a child, and I was quite fortunate to represent Zimbabwe under 19’s cricket. I was awarded a full cricket scholarship for my GCSEs and A levels at Prince Edward School Zimbabwe and Gresham’s School in the UK. Growing up, I would spend my holiday breaks visiting my cousins, I have so many of them I have lost count!
I went to Cardiff Metropolitan University where I did both an undergraduate degree and an MSc.
Moving countries and associating with people who have different beliefs gave me a sense of empathy towards other cultures, a tool that is still paying me dividends up to now.
Tell us about your time on the Financial Services Graduate Programme so far.
I’m on placement at Propel Finance, a financial services company that provides a wide range of products and services including asset finance, which enables SMEs to access the latest equipment, vehicles, or technology.
I am working in the finance department which is responsible for management of the organisation’s cashflow and ensuring there are enough funds available to meet the day-to-day payments.
The team are also responsible for the credit and collections policies for the company’s customers, to ensure the organisation is paid on time, and that there is a payment policy for the company’s suppliers.
Currently, I am working on a funding audit project which involves testing large samples of data of agreements to source documentation. The aim of the project is to present the evidence and data tape to the external audit function in order to validate the completeness and accuracy of data. This information provides assurance to third party funders that the business can comply with data reporting requirements associated with securitisation structures.
I have also had the privilege to work with the Business Intelligence Team and gaining an understanding of how Tableau works for financial analysis, whilst performing different types of visualisations that are then presented or reported to relevant stakeholders.
What level of support does the Graduate Programme provide?
From the beginning of the programme, I was provided with all the tools and training necessary to achieve my aspirations. On my first day I was assigned a line manager, Matthew Price, Group Financial Controller of Propel Finance, who has been giving me guidance and sharing his vast knowledge of financial services industry. It’s a privilege to learn from him.
Externally, the graduate programme gives you a mentor, someone who has an extensive experience in the field that you want to pursue. Again, I am very thankful for the time and effort that Faye Cochlin (Financial Analyst- LexisNexis Risk Solutions) provides to me.
What’s the best thing about your role?
I think it has to be just how much opportunity there is to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. From the word go, we became a valued part of the team and are given real responsibilities and meaningful work, all the while being fully supported by our colleagues.
The Graduate Programme also provide numerous development opportunities such as workshops, Udemy courses, sessions with senior leaders, and wellbeing events. I’ve also found it great knowing that I’m experiencing all of this together with the rest of the graduate cohort. Having such a strong support network has been really key.
What challenges have you experienced?
Taking a step in Propel Finance came with a steep learning curve as I needed to understand the organisational structure and how each of the business units intersects and functions. I think this can be said for everyone on the programme as it’s such a new experience. It can feel a bit daunting at first and it takes time but what’s good is that everyone is very aware of this and is always happy to explain things to you. My tip for others would be to remember it’s okay to ask whenever you’re unsure about something, no one is judging you for not knowing everything.
Is a career in financial services accessible to different people?
Absolutely. We have a diverse graduate cohort from a variety of different backgrounds and disciplines, which is really great and goes to show that you do not necessarily need a business degree to work in financial services.
I really think that most of what I know now and the work I do has been learned on the job, so I think the most important thing is to be open to trying new things, and to be willing to learning from others because there will definitely be a lot of that!
What are your career goals/aspirations for the future?
Some of my future goals include leading a finance team in some capacity. I like to get myself ingrained in any organisation where I can learn, take on additional responsibilities, and make as valuable a contribution to the team as possible.
With the skills that I will accumulate on this Graduate Programme, I strongly believe that my future goal would be to strategically help companies move forward. However, I do not forget that there is uncertainty in everything and, wherever I deviate to, in terms of career aspirations, I will still look to be an expert in that field. That is the professional I aspire to be.
Thanks to Tatenda, it’s been great hearing his story and future aspirations which we hope to help nurture during the rest of his time on the Programme.