Leadership, development and supporting your team with Chetwood Operations Director, Sean Lynskey.

14th December 2021

At Chetwood, we work together to make customers better off and challenge the norm. At the heart of this, are the people who make up the Chetwood team, including the leadership team who encourage everyone to be the change..

We recently spoke to Operations Director, Sean Lynskey, to find out more about his role as a leader and how he embraces and invests in development during life at Chetwood.

Tell us a bit about your career to date

I got into Financial Services through a summer job during university (which ended up lasting 14 months). I've always been passionate about technology and finding out how things work. Working at IBM early in my career cemented that for me.

I started my leadership journey when I joined a graduate scheme at Lloyds Banking Group, rotating through the business, meeting new people and picking up new challenges. When I moved from Lloyds to Capco to become a Management Consultant, I spent time with several banks across the industry developing solutions to common problems. I had great opportunities to really strengthen my resilience, ingenuity and time management skills. All of which have been essential during my Chetwood journey.

What does being a leader mean to you?

To me, leadership is about supporting your people and giving them the space and resources they need while being flexible in your style and approach. Different people need different things.

How is Chetwood doing things differently when it comes to its people and leadership team?

Chetwood works to challenge the status quo and be the change. That's not just about products and services, but how we build our team and organisation too.

Our People Team and Leadership Team share common goals when it comes to how we set ourselves up. Early on, we set a culture of 'ownership'. We flattened the ‘hierarchical norms’ that larger firms instil, and we made all of our people available to each other. No lofty execs with secretaries in offices, no large displays of ego and status. We exist for the customer, and we support each other.

Tell us a bit about the development opportunities at Chetwood and what the path to a leadership role looks like?

Development is, in my view, not a tick box exercise. We’re people, we’re complex and dynamic, and we all bring different experiences. Chetwood and its approach to leadership is therefore dynamic too.

We’ve brought almost 200 jobs to North Wales in the last couple of years, and worked closely with schools and colleges to hire and train interns, apprentices and graduates. We continue to develop those at the start of their careers. We’ve found brilliant experienced hires with varied backgrounds, some in Financial Services, some without. Some of those without had a firm view on banking and what working in a ‘stuffy bank’ might be like. Fortunately, we changed that view and they’re now leading teams and diversifying our thinking.

We’ve had some really passionate and enthusiastic people move around into different jobs and areas within Chetwood. We’re always looking to support people on the next step in their careers, whatever that looks like for them. So, whilst there’s no fixed, defined path, development and leadership are core to our people strategy. We're always looking for people with passion that want to join our mission of using technology to make customers better off.

How do you continue to grow and develop yourself as a leader?

Experience. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the theory of good leadership, but putting it into practice is what really helps me grow and develop. I read books on leadership. Authors Patrick Lencioni, Steven Covey and Jim Collins are masters at articulating and refining problems that I barely get time to notice or address during a busy workday. But, with new knowledge and experience, I try to continue to develop my own skills.

In addition to reading and practising, I’ve always found that listening to, and working with, other leaders is a great way to reflect and think about my leadership skills.

I’m fortunate to have been trusted by some great leaders throughout my career who have shared some of their problems with me, inviting thoughtful consideration or observations. This has served me well in terms of understanding others and the problems they face, in addition to giving me a network of mentors, and in many cases friends, that help me navigate some of my own challenges. I’ve taken things from all the leaders along the way.

What are the challenges that come with your role within the leadership team?

Time. Leadership is tricky, or rather, great leadership is tricky. It requires thoughtfulness and preparation. I don’t always find enough time in a packed week to dedicate all the time I’d like to be a really great leader.

Whilst I travel I try to spend time reflecting and thinking about my team and how I can be a great leader for them. I listen to leadership podcasts too, Brene Brown is a favourite. Aside from that, one of the best challenges and most interesting elements of my role as a leader is complexity and diversity. Trying to see where we’re heading and thinking about how we can articulate that in a way that resonates with everyone in the team, and asking myself ‘how can I meet the team's needs and support their growth?’.

As a leader, what does diversity and inclusion mean, and look like, to you?

In this regard, we all have such a huge part to play. Whilst the burden might be greater on ‘leaders’, I think we all need to challenge the status quo when it comes to inclusion and make sure nobody is overlooked. The danger with looking to leaders alone, is that many leadership groups are still somewhat homogeneous and don’t have the diversity of thought and representation needed to truly alter the paradigm. I think the more we talk about it, and call out the conscious and unconscious biases, the greater chance we have at developing into a more inclusive society.

At Chetwood, we’ve built mechanisms into our apprentice and graduate hiring to minimise unconscious bias and to ensure we get applications from underrepresented groups. We are also supporting charities and local community projects to help those in underrepresented areas progress into careers in technology and banking. I’m always open to ideas and suggestions as to how we can do more.

How do you align yourself to Chetwood’s culture and values?

Being part of the team that set up Chetwood has been an honour and hugely rewarding experience for me as I’ve been able to influence and shape the culture of our firm. What’s most important to me now is how we continue to adapt and evolve as new members of the team join us.

There are core foundations of our culture that I hope never changes, such as our customer-centricity, entrepreneurial spirit, drive and ambition for change. Many of these resonate strongly with me as they overlap with my personal values.

As we grow, how we do things will evolve, and I want to play my part in encouraging newer members of the team to shape and develop this. Age and seniority are not factors I hold highly when I’m seeking to learn and understand others. I find great value in spending time with new team members and understanding their cultures and values and what they bring to Chetwood. I'm always looking for new perspectives and things I can learn.

What would you say is the most valuable thing you bring to a team?

I’d say my drive and desire to succeed. Starting a company is hard, building a bank is hard. Most people look puzzled when I tell them what we’re doing or what I do for work.

I take great satisfaction in achieving the tricky things and pulling teams together to solve the problems that others shy away from. Throughout my career, I’ve been the person in the team that gets pulled into projects that are a bit more knotty than anyone would like. It’s only recently, through working on my own development that I’ve realised why this is, and that not everyone works at the pace I do, and in a well-balanced team, they shouldn’t either. I'm excited by change, so the pace and drive I bring mean we’re not standing still.

Interested in joining a new kind of bank? We're always looking for great people to be the change in financial services. Head over to our Careers page to see our current opportunities.