“Being awarded an MBE is mind-blowing”
We talk to three brilliant Barclays colleagues, who were recognised in the 2022 New Year Honours list. They tell us how they reacted when they found out about their awards – and the insights they’ve gained in their careers so far.
The list of the Queen’s New Year Honours recipients is announced on the last day of every year, and according to the government, marks “the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the UK”. At the end of 2021, several Barclays’ colleagues were awarded for their incredible work within and beyond the bank.
One of them is Narinder Dhandwar, a Business Relationship Manager, who was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to the business and financial sectors in the West Midlands during the pandemic.
“Many of my clients were having a terrible time. They needed someone to talk to who could also help them access government support,” he says, reflecting on what it was like to provide exemplary service to local businesses facing huge challenges. “We were working long days and weekends but it was so important to be there for my clients. I’m proud to say that I haven’t lost one business in all that time.”
Narinder’s commitment to helping others extends far beyond his day job. As well as being a Barclays Citizenship Ambassador – playing a pivotal role in championing citizenship by raising colleague awareness of the bank’s strategy and activity – he is a dedicated volunteer. “I mentor students at Staffordshire University, where I graduated,” he explains, “and I have volunteered with the charity Samaritans for many years. I also became very active in a WhatsApp self-help group for Barclays’ colleagues who were shielding from COVID-19.”
Looking back at his career, he says his most important lesson has been to “be nice, be friendly, be open and be willing to learn – because the only constant is change.”
Despite being recognised publicly for his work, Narinder is still modest about his accomplishments, saying that when he first received his MBE letter, he assumed it was a mistake.
“The first time I looked at it I thought, ‘this can’t be real, this has got to be some sort of a scam. Normal people like me are not awarded an MBE,’” he laughs. “It seemed so unbelievable. To be honest, I just threw it in the bin. It wasn’t until I had a phone call from the Barclays Chairman’s office that I actually took it seriously. But it’s nice to be told that I’ve been an inspiration to other people.”
“There’s so much more I can do”
Aged just 27, the achievements of Natalie Ojevah are nothing short of phenomenal. A raft of previous awards – including a National Apprenticeship Award, a WeAreTheCity Rising Star award, and a Barclays Citizenship and Diversity award – have culminated in an MBE for services to business development, and diversity and inclusion. It’s an achievement that Natalie, Eagle Labs’ Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Lead, is still coming to terms with.
“It’s just mad,” she recalls. “It was only when the letter mentioned the programme and events that I created, that I thought, ‘Maybe this is real after all’. Being awarded an MBE is mind-blowing, but very validating. I literally have no words.”
Having joined Barclays as a 17-year-old apprentice cashier at her local branch in Woolwich, her current role was created for her when she returned from maternity leave in September 2021. Prior to that, she created the Black Founder Accelerator programme to support Black entrepreneurs.
“The programme is now in its third year and it’s has been a real career highlight. All of that came from one email to our Director because I had an idea and vision,” she says.
“But I also love my new role because it’s creative and innovative. Not only can I support Black entrepreneurs, I’m also able to build partnerships with diverse businesses and non-profit organisations. That’s what really excites me.
“I’m a Black girl from south-east London. My parents are both immigrants, I come from a one-parent household, and I qualified for free school meals growing up. In the future, I want to show people that you can start from a background like mine, and work your way up from an apprenticeship. I want to become a vice president then a director at Barclays – and I want to take on a non-executive director role because you can pioneer real change that way. There’s so much more I can do.”
“I believe teams work better when you all have shared values”
When former Lieutenant Colonel David Goodacre left a 24-year military career, he was unsure what to do next. But a three-month secondment at Barclays’ Glasgow campus, supported by the bank’s Military Talent Scheme (MTS), proved to be the perfect springboard.
He started his new role as Director, Supply Chain ESG in November 2021 and, just a month or so later, he was appointed an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his previous work digitising military personnel systems – a project that won a VIBES Scottish Environment Business Award for reducing paper usage and cutting CO2 emissions by 900 tonnes in a single year.
“I joined the army as an officer straight from university and I loved it,” he says. “I liked the idea of discipline and routine, and being proud of what you do for a living.”
Being awarded an OBE was a fitting finale to such a rewarding career, but David says he was surprised by his nomination. “I was part of a fantastic team of people, with a supportive chain of command, and I wouldn’t have received the honour without them.
“But I had already left the army when I got the call from the Military Secretary about my OBE, so my immediate reaction was shock. After that, the hardest part was keeping it secret!”
With an army career that focused on leadership, teamwork and project planning, David brings plenty of relevant experience to his new role. “I think testing yourself is very important as a leader, and being able to test myself in some pretty harsh environments has given me a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.
“In the military, we change jobs a lot so I’ve worked in procurement and operations planning, and my final job was in HR where I future-proofed our people structure,” he explains. “Now, I’m leading the Procurement Supply Chain ESG programme, where we're wont to influence and improve the environmental and social impact of Barclays’ supply chain – including addressing climate impact, modern slavery, and pay and conditions.”
So far, David is enjoying working at the bank. “I do miss wearing a uniform but, apart from that, the transition has been fairly simple. Everyone I’ve met has been very helpful and I’ve appreciated being able to transfer my skills. Barclays appealed to me because it’s a values-based organisation and I believe teams work better when you all have shared values.”