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Career story: studying PER to become chartered in banking

26 May, 2022Juno Baker

After a career spanning over three decades, Sarah Drake recently became chartered in banking through our Professional Experiential Route (PER). She tells us how reflecting on her career has helped her develop new ways of working and opened up new opportunities.

What made you decide to do the Professional Experiential Route (PER)? 

Sarah DrakeIt was a new course which offered a different way of studying that I hadn’t tried before. The previous LIBF courses I’d completed were exam based or shorter assignments. PER consists of four, 3,500-word essays based on previous experiences and study.  

Naively I thought writing essays would be far easier than sitting exams, but how wrong can you be?

A-levels were a long time ago for me and I didn’t go to university, so this was a completely new writing style.  When I showed my tutor the first draft of my first essay, he said it would make a great credit report!

How did you learn to write essays for PER?

I did a lot of reading and research on how to write academic essays and found the MyLIBF website and the virtual learning environment, BrightSpace, a big help with this.  

Having a tutor with a similar career background was also very useful. He could relate to my experiences and knowledge so he was really good at supporting me. He taught me how to draft what I wanted to say into academic essays without putting the words in my mouth. 

Having dedicated one-to-one time was also extremely valuable. The tutor support was focused and direct, and my tutor was very good at keeping me on track to meet deadlines.

What did you like most about PER? 

Having the time to reflect on my career journey re-affirmed the knowledge I’d built up over the years.

And it was nice to be able to go at your own speed.

What were the challenges?

Combining study with a busy full-time job, children and caring for parents was very difficult and some adjustment.  I’d like to think I’m very organised and self-motivated, which helped. 

The support of my family was paramount as PER involved lots of late nights and weekends. My employer, HSBC, was also very supportive – they allowed me to schedule my ten hours of tutor time during the working day. 

What’s your top tip for completing PER?

If you set yourself a goal to complete and finalise an essay every two months, you’ll remain on track and have sufficient time to review and reflect on your essays.

That’s key to making sure you complete within the 12 months.  

How has PER changed the way you work? 

Yes. It made me reflect on the experiences and challenges in my career and what I’ve learnt from each one. And it made me consider how to apply the skills and knowledge drawn from that learning to new opportunities. 

It also made me realise what an important impact banks have on society – particularly during Covid-19. We’ve been supporting large numbers of customers to continue trading and, in turn, support their employees during such a turbulent time.

Has PER opened up any opportunities for you?

PER provoked me into re-evaluating my career and looking at broadening my skillset – so much so that I applied for a role in a central team supporting our small business banking colleagues.

After 20-plus years on the front line, this was way outside of my comfort zone. But completing the PER gave me the confidence I needed.  I’m now working as a Senior Business Support Manager.

For me personally, becoming chartered was important too.

As a relationship manager, you deal with other professionals on a regular basis – accountants and solicitors who all have professional qualifications. Having achieved a chartered qualification underlines your professionalism and experience.

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