Sparta and NatWest seek underrepresented talent for emerging OBM community

Sparta Global, a UK B-Corp hire, train, deploy (HTD) company, is partnering with NatWest to secure technology talent from diverse backgrounds. 

The partnership aims to support the continued growth of NatWest’s One Bank Mortgages (OBM) platform.
The OBM team is responsible for delivering a quality, compliant and inclusive mortgages service. Recognising the talent in these teams is critical for banks to innovate, adapt and succeed – OBM has led a fundamental shift in how NatWest hires and develops early careers talent across critical functions.

Sparta Global’s HTD model presented an opportunity for OBM to engage with a diverse and passionate emerging talent community who would feed into NatWest’s permanent workforce capability. Together, the organisations could find, train and nurture OBM’s next generation of digital leaders by providing opportunities for those from underrepresented communities to progress within a major retail bank.

Before being assigned to NatWest, ‘Spartans’ [those who have been brought in by Sparta Global] completed paid training programmes across Java Development, Test and DevOps, with training designed to help them hit the ground running, with the skills to adapt, pick up skills quickly, and collaborate with the wider team.

“The financial services industry is undergoing major digital transformation to improve operations and keep up with customer expectations,” said Sparta Global CEO David Rai. “As a skills shortage prevails, tapping into underrepresented groups who offer diverse skills and opinions will only promote the innovation needed.”

In January 2022, 12 ‘Spartan’ consultants specialising in software engineering, test automation and dev-ops were selected to join NatWest’s OBM team. Those joining were made up of women, those first in their families to go to university, and individuals from minority backgrounds. These consultants secured the opportunity on attitude, aptitude and potential alone – not prior technology experience or educational background. Since joining the team, 11 have been converted to full-time employees at NatWest to continue their personal and professional growth.

“We tried something new in One Bank Mortgages and wow, has it worked,” says Gary Johnson, head of transformation OBM, NatWest Group. 

“Many times we've seen teams bring in early career talent and fall into the trap of constraining their ability to shine. We decided that if we hired great people, who just happened to have shorter CVs than others, then we should find a way to create a space for them to demonstrate what they could do but also to learn and grow.”

Spartans entered NatWest with the potential to succeed, but it was the OBM team who harnessed this – giving the emerging talent recruits opportunities to programme in pairs to bridge knowledge gaps, upskill in areas that interested them, take it in turns to be team Scrum Masters and be vocal about their personal career goals in an inclusive space. All Spartans were able to complete agile learning pathways and continue with self-directed learning.
Johnson said: “Everyone had an opportunity to succeed, to fail, and to learn. Some have discovered a passion for parts of the job they didn't know about, while others have simply been able to do what they always wanted. All have excelled. The result is that our One Bank Broker Portal now supports the placing of Coutts’ specialist mortgages business. This is a significant enhancement to the portal and delivers real value for our customers.”
Rai added that hiring today’s generation of early career talent requires an “understanding” of attributes, an “empathy” for diversity, and management that “engages” their interests. 

“NatWest and the OBM team understand this ethos and together have created an exceptional environment for emerging talent to thrive and contribute to future organisational success,” he said.
Sparta Global hires, trains and deploys diverse technology talent to more than 100 public and private sector organisations across the UK and Ireland.

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