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My Work Life: Gemma

Senior Operational Risk Manager, Gemma, on her experience at Zopa and her career moves so far.

I began my career at a translation agency in Paris

…Translating marketing documents for international beauty brands from French to English.

I didn’t much care for the translation game, but I became interested in the things I was translating. So, I applied for marketing jobs and started working for a marketing agency. Then I was seconded to Lloyds Bank, who were a client of the agency and I ended up working there for a few years before coming to Zopa. 

Zopa was a bit of a leap of faith

It was very small at that time – only about 70 people.  I enjoyed working in financial services but had wanted a smaller, more dynamic environment where I could see the impact I was making. And I felt that I was at a point in my career where I could take a risk and see if it paid off, and it did!

I have worn many hats in my time at Zopa

The first, back in 2014, was Acquisition Manager, where my job was to grow the broker (now called intermediaries) and price comparison site channels and sign on new partners.

Then we decided to launch into new marketing channels, so I managed the direct mail and TV advertising campaigns, before becoming Brand and Communications Manager and managing the rebrand in 2016.

Then an opportunity came to work on non-marketing projects, and I became a Project Manager. My first non-marketing project was to procure and implement a tool to help Zopa monitor its risks. Somewhat surprisingly, I found the world of risk very interesting, and after project managing several risk-related projects within the Bank Launch programme, I found my new home in the Risk Team, as Senior Operational Risk Manager.

Project Management and Ops Risk are both extremely varied

A project manager has to love variety, be flexible and open to change, and they need to understand the bigger picture so that the teams can focus on their area of expertise. In Operational Risk, the variety of work is similarly huge, and the ability to zoom in and out of detail is equally important.  I hope to bring my project management skills to my new role, while developing my subject matter expertise in the world of Ops Risk.

I get to see and explore many aspects of the business – and that is endlessly interesting

The goal of Ops Risk is to ensure that the business understands where there could be potential weaknesses or gaps in its processes and systems, and then to make a deliberate decision on how to address those weaknesses.

So working in this area gives me an insight into all parts of the business, from finance to HR to software development. I love that I get to work with specialists in many fields of the business and get an insight into their worlds.  And I hope that by helping them understand and consider the risks we are willing to take, and those we are not willing to take, we can build a resilient and efficient business.

The people are what makes Zopa special

I don’t think there are many companies where the people are as engaged or care as much as they do here.

There’s a real ‘in it together’ feel

People want the best for customers, colleagues and the company, and will work hard to get it. Even as we’ve grown, I think we’re still an approachable bunch.

I’ve had a lot of opportunities to try new things and explore

And Zopa has supported me through each transition. I see it all over the place – there are lots of opportunities for those who want them and are willing to work hard and prove themselves. 

In my spare time I like to

Be outside, walking, running, cycling, skiing, swimming – but only when the weather is nice. I’m a fair-weather only active person!

I still love being a tourist in London, even though I’ve lived here for most my life. Otherwise I’m happy to be inside cooking, slobbing on the sofa, or practicing piano. 

I get inspired by

Seeing an idea come to fruition. Small ideas like improving a process or making something more efficient, or big ideas like a new brand identity or a bank launch – I really love figuring out how to make them happen, and then seeing them come to life.I