A family photo of the Atom bank team; the Atom pull brings a unique mix of talent and experience, including global talent too!
Everything about Atom bank is exceptional.
Behind the banking app is a uniquely human team, constructed of industry experts from academia to law to the civil service, living on the doorstep of Atom’s County Durham office or three hundred miles away, new to the industry or with decades of valuable experience behind them.
Bringing together this team of diverse, talented individuals has been no mean feat… but how do you find the very best the world has to offer? And how do you persuade them to come and work for your challenger bank?
Simple. You build it. Build it out of eco-mud walls and no dress code, with apple fences in the car park, and stotties in the local shops, next to a nature reserve, with fresh ideas, tenacity and an open mind – and they will come, as BQ’s Suzy Jackson discovered.
There are some great benefits to working at Atom bank – but the primary perk is definitely the job itself.
Atom is a bank full of hoodie-wearers but it’s not like your dad, trying to be cool and hip and ‘down with the kids’… This bank is substance over style; the style element of Atom bank is what you see presented in the app and in their products, and they polish the boots of that to perfection.
But their people. Their people are authentic in every way. No one changes into their work persona on entering the building; instead they come to work as themselves. Individuality and respect is key at Atom.
Sean Gilhome, resourcing manager at Atom bank, tells me that a strong team is a diverse team: “We’re about idea generation and doing things differently, to do this we need a diverse workforce, with different experiences and backgrounds to ensure we have well thought out suggestions,” he says.
“We’re trying to be at the forefront of technology but that doesn’t mean that we have a bunch of robots working for us,” adds Gareth Johnston, HR business partner. Individuality, creativity and personality are important; what they bring to a business is really valued here. “Maximising the range of demographics of our people within the business will only enhance the scope of experience, skills and insight that we can draw upon. We’re also trying to disrupt the industry and we’re not going to do that by employing a bunch of stereotypical bankers!”
“Some of the roles we recruit for are pretty niche and sometimes that means we need to delve into talent pools that are a little further afield but we continue to invest our time into initiatives such as Women in Finance and the Tech Talent Charter to try and develop our own talent pools more locally.”
“Let’s not forget the people we’ve got within the business already, we place a massive emphasis on self-development, sponsoring people through professional qualifications and other development to ensure we can promote internally.”
A diverse team is the only true way to engage with, serve, and represent the diverse customer base Atom are building. Sean adds: “We look for individuals who are passionate about changing an industry, about creating something that we can all be proud of and making a difference.”
And in return, the package is good, with flexibility and long term rewards baked in. “This makes sure Atom has people who are here for the right reasons. This results in low attrition and a real family feel, an environment that encourages creativity, opinions and challenge,” he says. “This should reassure customers that everyone here at Atom wants to do a fantastic job for them, always putting customers first when making decisions and striving to make their lives better.”
Katy Ringsdore has been Atom’s head of PR for just more than two years. Her office is in Durham, and her house is in Bristol. Yes, that Bristol.
“It’s extremely exhausting,” she concedes. “I get the train to London on a Monday, work from London all day then get the train to Durham that evening. I work in Durham until Thursday then fly to Bristol on a Thursday evening - this flight is nearly ALWAYS delayed.”
391 miles on the rails and around 280 by air each week, but Katy shrugs it off. “I love Atom!” Her enthusiasm is contagious as she adds: “It is an incredibly special place to work - I have never had a better job.”
Living through the week in Durham, Katy has learned the local love of the word ‘champion’ and credits the people she shares her work life with as being ‘100%’ the reason she adores her job so much.
Vincent Golding made the move back to the North East from near Leeds in early 2017, bringing his daughter back to be raised closer to his family. Having settled into a career in the banking sector already, Atom’s location allowed him to stop trawling through job sites as their advert for operations trainer was too good to resist!
“We’re building a bank! How many people get to say that,” he asks. “And we’re having a good time doing it. What more could anyone want from their job?”
His commute now is double what it was when he was based in Yorkshire, but it’s 100% worth it, he says… you could almost say it’s a ‘canny’ drive! “I’d stopped using that when I wasn’t living in the North East, but I’m so pleased it’s a regular part of my vocabulary.”
And after ten years in Yorkshire, he’s settling into his ‘fun, crazy and fast’ job at Atom by celebrating the fact that stottie cakes are available everywhere…
Kate Horwath, Copy Manager, has a lengthy commute from the wilds of Yorkshire. Why would she travel hundreds of miles just to go to work? “Because it’s Atom!”, she exclaims. “Look, I realise it's a cliché and people will think I'm only saying this because my boss might read it, but it's absolutely, totally genuine.
“Atom cares from top to toe. From a smile and a chat with the Chairman and CEO, being human has trickled down the whole business. It’s a really unique place to work”
Kate loves the humanity that she finds in her role. “At Atom, you can have an idea in the shower in the morning and discuss it with the chief marketing officer by lunch.
“I’m creating the personality for a bank, not many people can say they’ve done that!”
The Returning student
George North, media specialist spent a year commuting from West Yorkshire before the pull of Newcastle became too strong for him, and he succumbed to the bright lights of the big city – again, having been here as a student at Northumbria University.
He’s halved his commute, but more importantly for him, he now car-shares with two colleagues; significantly important when, after falling in love with the Tyne Bridge on a visit, he now stares at ‘that bridge’ from a queue of stationary cars if he hits rush hour!
“Throughout education and growing up,” he says, “you are taught about this tough and strict expectation of what ‘the big wide world’ is like. Atom is nothing like that. It encourages uniqueness and personality like nowhere I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t imagine there being anywhere like it.”
Relishing life back in the Toon, George particularly likes his constant proximity to a Greggs sausage roll, and being able to use the phrase ‘howay, man!’ to express disdain to – well, anyone, really.