A portrait of Barclays’ Maya Welford.

“I understand the power of supporting other people – and that drives me”

01 June 2023

Maya Welford balances her role as a Behavioural Finance Specialist with running a charity mentoring programme, playing an active role in two employee resource groups – and producing a podcast on the power of names. She shares how mentorship has been an important part of her career, why she is so enthusiastic about supporting her colleagues – and how Barclays has helped her to pursue her passions.

Maya Welford is no stranger to seizing new opportunities. When she joined Barclays through its HR graduate scheme in 2018, she immediately sought out ways to become more involved in the bank’s vast array of extracurriculars. Five years on, she is a mentoring programme founder, a founding member of the bank’s social mobility employee resource group (ERG) – and a podcaster.

She says it all started with an excellent mentor. “I am in the first generation of my family to follow the traditional university route,” reflects Maya, who was born and raised in East London. “My dad left school at 14, and my mum came to the UK from Japan when she was 23.”

At the age of 17, Maya was faced with the daunting prospect of applying to university for a degree in psychology with little knowledge about the process – until her school connected her to a mentor who worked at an investment management firm in London. He helped her put together her university applications, develop her interviewing skills – and ultimately set her on her professional path.

“From that, I really understood the power of supporting other people – and that’s something that drives me,” says Maya. “I feel like that support has had such a great impact on me and my career trajectory that I want to give back in whatever way I can.”

“It feels like you can have multiple careers within this big organisation. I’m always being stretched within the different roles I’m in..

Maya Welford

Behavioural Finance Specialist, Barclays

“It feels like you can have multiple careers at Barclays”

Mentorship has since played an essential role in Maya’s career. She references one colleague in particular, whom she met during the Barclays two-year graduate programme in Human Resources. This colleague has supported her from her early days at the bank.

“Towards the end of the graduate scheme, we spent around three months focusing our mentoring sessions on interviewing skills and applications to assistant vice president-level roles,” says Maya. “She’s become a real mentor and sponsor to me here at Barclays.”

This support has helped her to consolidate the skills that have been crucial to the different roles she’s taken on. By the end of 2020, Maya was helping colleagues around the world to navigate some of the challenges they were facing during the pandemic as a Global Wellbeing Manager. A year later, she decided it was time for a “complete change” and moved to Barclays’ Private Bank and Wealth Management business – where she has since worked as a Behavioural Finance Specialist.

In this project-based role, Maya focuses on “how to use the understanding of psychology and human behaviour to improve investment outcomes for our clients”. She has helped to upskill Barclays wealth management teams up and down the country around this topic, encouraging them to build “deeper, more meaningful relationships with clients”.

“What’s quite interesting is that I didn’t even know this role existed when I joined the bank,” says Maya. “I never imagined there was a team where I could really utilise my background in psychology in quite a different way.”

The breadth of opportunities available at Barclays is one reason why she has chosen to stay at the bank for much longer than she first anticipated. “Actually, it feels like you can have multiple careers within this big organisation. I’m always being stretched within the different roles I’m in.”

Connecting with colleagues and communities

Looking beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of her role, Maya says she is grateful for the support she has received from her colleagues, which has allowed her to also invest time in her many passions: “There’s genuine interest about the extracurricular work that I do”.

Just as she was beginning her career at the bank, Maya launched the charity mentoring programme under Barclays’ gender-focused employee resource group, Win. The programme connects Barclays colleagues and charities through mentoring relationships, with the aim of bringing some of the bank’s training and development resources to organisations in the sector. “It absolutely isn’t about going in and ‘saving’ the charity sector – it’s very much a two-way process and a mutually beneficial programme,” she says.

Since its launch, the programme has more than quadrupled the number of charity partnerships it supports, from seven to more than 30 as of 2022. There were 80 mentor-mentee relationships backed by the programme in its first year – that number has since grown to 400. Maya beams: “It is like my baby that I’ve been able to carry through all of my different roles here at Barclays.”

And that’s not the only project Maya has nurtured during her career at the bank. Beyond her involvement in Win, Maya is a founding member of Inspire – the Barclays ERG focused on socio-economic inclusion.

These groups are a powerful way of “bringing colleagues together who have shared lived experiences and interests,” she says. “ERGs provide a space to connect but also to come together and do something – whether that be organise events to raise awareness or go out and do some fundraising for a particular group.” She also highlights the value of getting involved in ERGs as an ally. “I love the fact that there’s space for colleagues to express themselves – but also the opportunity to better understand others and raise our own self-awareness.”

Five years in, I’m still finding ways to learn, I’m still feeling challenged, I’m still feeling like I’m really supported to progress in my career.

Maya Welford

Behavioural Finance Specialist, Barclays

‘That’s My Name’

Adding to an already impressive list of extracurriculars, Maya spends her free time producing her very own podcast, ‘That’s My Name’. Laughing, she says that this project began in 2021 – at a time when everyone seemed to be starting a podcast – but the interest that motivated her to launch it was longstanding.

The series explores name-related stories and cultural naming traditions from around the world, a topic that Maya – whose full name is Maya Mitsuko September Welford – says is hugely important to her.

Maya is my first name: it’s quite an international name, but it is also a Japanese name, and my mum is Japanese. My second name is Mitsuko, which is my maternal grandma’s name – a nod to my Japanese heritage. September is the month in which I was born. And Welford follows the British tradition of the child taking the father’s surname.”

Reflecting on her names and her experiences of using them in the world, Maya says: “Talking about names is such a great way to get people to think about identity and belonging because we don’t really realise how closely we tie our identities to our names. I’m aiming to share stories about that to enhance inclusion and understanding among different people.”

“Five years in, I’m still finding ways to learn”

So, what advice does Maya have for people considering a career at the bank? “Go for it. Barclays is such a great place to work, and I think the fact that I have been here for five years is testament to that. There are colleagues across the organisation who are willing to sit down with you and speak to you. If you’re stuck on something, they’re willing to support you – even if it might not be part of their daily role.”

She says that, ultimately, Barclays fosters an environment in which colleagues are encouraged to develop and grow: “There are leaders across the organisation who have taken an active role in my development. I’m still finding ways to learn, I’m still feeling challenged, I’m still feeling like I’m really supported to progress in my career.” 

Need to know

Maya Welford joined Barclays five years ago through the bank’s Human Resources graduate scheme. Now a Behavioural Finance Specialist within the Private Bank and Wealth Management business, she focuses on applying her background in psychology to improve investment outcomes for clients. She is the founder of Barclays’ charity mentoring programme and a founding member of the socio-economic inclusion employee resource group, Inspire. Her podcast, ‘That’s My Name’, highlights unique perspectives on name-related stories and cultural naming traditions from around the world.