By Anmol Singh
My first few months working at OakNorth were something of a whirlwind – I’d been working at Rishi and Joel’s (OakNorth’s founders) previous venture, Copal Partners, in India for five and a half years and was looking for a new challenge.
I’d been offered a role on the India credit team of a UK clearing bank, but felt it was a bit “vanilla”, so when I spotted an opening for a credit analyst role at OakNorth – a fintech my former manager had recently joined – I got in touch with him to discuss the opportunity. I was intrigued and excited by OakNorth’s mission to empower the Missing Middle and was keen to see what Rishi and Joel could do next. After several interviews with numerous members of the team, I was fortunate to be offered the role, joining in September 2015, just as OakNorth Bank was launching in the UK.
At the time, the entire OakNorth India team was only about 10 people in Gurgaon, but over the months I was there, it quadrupled in size, and today, it is made up of several hundred people across three cities.
As a member of the credit team, I worked closely with OakNorth’s debt finance directors in the UK, as well as other departments such as Treasury and Finance. My line manager was Neil Evans – OakNorth’s Head of Credit and a member of both its Executive Committee and Credit Committee. Prior to joining OakNorth Bank, Neil had worked at RBS for over 35 years, so working with him has been a phenomenal learning experience.
In January 2016, just a few months after I’d joined the business, I was given the opportunity to spend a month in the UK, training with Neil and OakNorth’s Head of Debt Finance, Ben Barbanel – another seasoned banker who I’d already learned a lot from. It was this one-month stint that led to Joel offering me a permanent role in the UK, seeing me as a helpful liaison between the credit teams in the UK and India. I jumped at the opportunity – as soon as I got back to India in February, OakNorth helped me apply for my visa and I moved to the UK in mid-May.
If I’d left Copal Partners to join a clearing bank as I had initially planned, I would have been a tiny cog in a very big machine – one of thousands of people working in the credit function. I’d likely never have had the opportunity to move to the UK, and the day-to-day role would be repetitive and “vanilla”. At OakNorth Bank, the opportunities to grow and learn are infinite, the role is dynamic, and the exposure to senior stakeholders is extensive. I wake up every morning knowing I’ll get to work on exciting and unique deals – nothing vanilla, more chocolate chip!
Having come from an investment banking background, I’ve been able to train as a credit expert and gain experience on strategic credit areas such as audit and regulatory reviews. I’ve now been with OakNorth Bank for six years and highlights have been working on high-profile deals such as LEON and Brasserie Blanc, as well as helping to set up the process for its participation in the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). We’ve lent several hundred million pounds to British businesses via the Schemes, helping hundreds of businesses, so being part of this team is something I’m really proud of.