Andy Piper

My Working Day: Andy Piper

31 August 2017

Andy Piper, 36, Director, Service Governance and Control at Barclays, is based at the bank’s Radbroke Technology Centre in Knutsford, Cheshire. He lives in Bramhall, Greater Manchester, with his wife Nicola, two-year-old son Sebastian, and baby daughter Eliza. He tells us about being “thrown in the deep end” from day one, cramming ten meetings into a day – and nearly becoming a superstar DJ.

My alarm goes off… at 6:20am. While my wife gets our son ready for nursery, I normally scan my emails over breakfast. I like to see if anything has happened overnight that I have to deal with. If it’s one of the days I drop Sebastian off at nursery, I will take him on the way to work. I pick up an Americano from Starbucks and arrive at my desk by 8.30am to get stuck in to emails.

Andy Piper and Radbroke Hall

My team sets the standards by which IT Service Management at Barclays is done, globally across all bank divisions and locations, for 140,000 colleagues. There have been well-publicised examples where banks go down for short periods and can’t process anything, often because they haven’t focussed enough on how they provide IT services and, for example, make changes in an uncontrolled way. Our processes are designed to stop people making that kind of mistake.

We ensure continuous service, doing things in a way that keeps our regulators comfortable and managing incidents so as not to damage the bank or its customers. In terms of how seriously Barclays takes these standards, it is absolutely at the core of what we are about. The intention is to ensure we don’t take any undue risks with our IT.

I got the job… after studying English language and computational linguistics at the University of York. Following a spell at Andersen, I moved to Deloitte as a technology risk consultant and spent ten years there – a lot of which was on secondment at Barclays.

I started specialising in financial services, gaining experience in many different institutions across Europe. In 2010, I made the jump and joined Barclays as a member of staff in Risk and Control. I moved into GTIS in 2013 and I was promoted to Director in May 2015.

My average day… is never average! I’m always talking to people and in back-to-back meetings, sometimes from 9am to 5.30pm. I can have ten solid meetings a day. Most of my meetings tend to be about identifying challenges and working out how we can make things better. I also have a governance function, chasing down how people are following standards so I also spend a lot of time working with other teams to improve their levels of adherence. I normally have two lunches a day because I’m gym training. I’m quite fastidious about what I eat so will bring meals in with me.

My best day at work… was whilst I was working in Tech Risk. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to some of our locations in Africa and I spent some time in Lusaka in Zambia. I found it fascinating to find out about the unique challenges they face because of their region and geography and look at some of the innovative solutions they came up with to resolve them.

My average day… is never average!

The most difficult part of my job is… working so widely across an organisation with such wildly different needs, trying to find processes and controls that work for everybody. As an example, if we change a process – say the way we problem-manage – we hold a series of workshops to review ways of working. We then clarify our design into a standard document. The document is sent out for review and it could take a few weeks for everybody to respond.

Once it’s on my desk, there are two more layers of signatories above me and then it’s gone. That can be a couple of months’ work.

The thing I love most about my job is… not being bored by doing the same thing every day. If my job was like a machine where I turned a handle to get the same output, I’d be bored out of my head. What keeps me excited is having new challenges and meeting new people.

After work… I try to train in the gym three nights a week. I make sure I’m out of work at a reasonable time, no later than 6pm. I go home and make sure I see my son Sebastian before going to the gym for an hour-and-a-half. It’s all free weights. I find it a good stress reliever lifting heavy weights for a bit. On the days when I’m not at the gym, I will leave work later but will make sure I go home. I’ll often do some work in the evening but I prioritise family time so I’m not doing any work until I bathe my son and put him to bed.

Once the little one is in bed and I’ve done any work I need to, my wife Nicola and I will watch NCIS and Flash or Game of Thrones. We have Sky Q and the planner is usually full of science fiction or Sebastian’s Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig!