My name is Constance Nafuna and I am a business manager at Barclays Bank PLC.I am originally from Uganda and came to England 4 years ago.
Finding employment was not easy as I had no qualifications and my English was not very good, I had trouble with immigration which saw me end up in detention, but I got lucky and got out, but finding a job was the most challenging part. I was unemployed for nearly 8 months after I got out of detention and finding jobs became harder each day I would apply to a lot of companies but none replied or called me back then one day when I had been turned down by a cleaning company for lack of experience I went to the job centre desperate for work and that’s when I learned that Barclays were looking for apprentices I applied and a few months later I was employed and started my Maths and English course, then I did a NVQ Level 2 in Providing Financial Services and I graduated in 2013. Last year I was put at the business academy and I am a business manager now doing a Level 3 qualification with IFS University College which I finish in 18 months.
I joined Barclays as an immigrant that didn’t have any qualifications and one who did not speak proper English but now I have 2 qualifications, I can speak perfect English and I have a very good job with the bank. I also won the national apprentice award 2013 as highly recommended and I represent the young people at the Life Skills Advisory Council.
I attend a lot of events to share my story with other young people that could be in worse situations than I was but have no one to guide them.
At this point I see myself as a rising star and the sky is the limit.
What do you love most about doing what you do?
I love that I am able to help customers that are starting their own businesses or those that are already in business and would like support around Lending, Marketing and also writing the Business plans.
I love that I am able to interact with small business owners and hear all about their business on a daily basis which makes me look forward to coming to work the next day. Every day is different in business banking.
I love helping my colleagues as well, especially when they have complex queries that I am able to solve which makes it easy to work together as a team.
Why do you think you are successful at what you do?
I am successful at what I do because I am open to learning new things everyday, I look at my weaknesses and mistakes as lessons to help me improve and become better at all the tasks that I am required to do.
I love helping my customers and I always put myself in their shoes. This helps me come up with ideas on how best to support them and their business.
I do a lot of shadowing from the people that have been in business longer than I have. This enables me to pick up best practices that help me in my day to day job.
I have a Personal Development Plan that I review every year with all my short and long term goals and how best I can achieve them.
I communicate effectively with my customers and my team so that I receive feedback on what I am doing well and what I need to improve on.
I also have a mentor that guides me and offers career advice so that I know what path to take to achieve more success.
How do you keep motivated?
I keep motivated by watching Ted talks, listening to podcasts from motivational speakers and also reading books.
I also write down the achievements that I have got from the moment I started my career until now which makes me want to work even harder because I know I am on the right path.
What would you say to a young person who is feeling uninspired about life and work?
I would say hold onto your dream, sometimes good things take a while to happen but they do. All one needs is to believe in themselves, I personally believe that with hard work, hope and opportunity anything is possible. You can become and achieve the person you want to be as long as you stay far away from negativity.
What do you think about The Big Academy and the work we’re trying to do, in helping all young people to get inspire and achieve success?
I think The Big Academy is doing a great job helping to inspire young people because a lot of young people have a lot of potential but lack people or organisations that believe in them or willing to offer them an opportunity to make something out of their lives.
The Big Academy offers that platform for the young people to read and learn first-hand from other young people who have been in their position but made it up their career with proper guidance and support.