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Executive MBA alumnus Tom Martin awarded Freedom of the City of London

Tom Martin, Remote Mortgage Director for Lloyds Banking Group and Executive MBA (EMBA) 2016 alumnus, was recently awarded the Freedom of the City of London and a Fellowship of the Chartered Banker Institute. We sat down with him to discuss what he’s been up to since graduating from the Cambridge Executive MBA.

Tom Martin, EMBA 2016 graduate.

You graduated from the programme in 2018 – what have you been up to since then?

I’ve taken on a new job in Retail at Lloyds Banking Group (the UK’s largest Retail Bank). I now run teams (around 700 colleagues in total) based across the UK, principally in London, Sheffield, Belfast and Dunfermline. Across three of the most recognisable banking brands in the country, Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland, I’m responsible for helping customers find their perfect mortgage over video or the phone. Of course, customers’ house purchase or mortgage journeys usually start with online research, and helping these customers is part of my remit too.

It is such a privilege to help thousands of customers find their dream homes or save money on what is probably their largest financial commitment. Remote mortgage advice channels are growing fast and it’s exciting to be a part of it!

On a personal level, just after completing my EMBA my third child was born – Annie Faith, a beautiful little girl. She was, however, born with a serious heart condition which required complex open heart surgery at four months old. Over the last 12 months we’ve been to Great Ormond Street Hospital nine times! This was a really testing time, but one that my family is coming through stronger. I started blogging during the EMBA programme which gave me the confidence to blog about this experience which I found therapeutic. I hope it helps other parents in similar circumstances.

Visit Tom’s blog on Annie’s progress >

Tom receiving his award.
Tom being awarded Freedom of the City of London.

You were recently awarded the ‘Freedom of the City of London’. What does that award mean to you?

It’s a huge privilege. Growing up in Wakefield in the north of England, the world of Finance and the City of London could not have been further from my thoughts. I received the award after 15 years in the City working values of integrity, ethics and professionalism as best I could. These values and principles might not be trendy or flash, but I’m banker than believes in them and I think they stand the test of time… or least since 1237, when the Freedom was first awarded!

As well as becoming a Freeman, you’ve also recently been awarded a Fellowship of the Chartered Banker Institute. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about and what it means to you, and for your career?

A fellowship is presented in recognition of a significant contribution to banking and the aims of the Institute. Professionalism, mentorship and working with high ethical and technical standards to rebuild public trust in the banking profession are key. My bank has a purpose of ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ and I believe I’ve got a responsibility to serve others too, which is exactly what I try to do. Banking, probably quite rightly, had a poor reputation. However, there are lots of us that, through our actions, are trying to earn the trust and respect of our customers and stakeholders.

You’ve been a co-opted trustee for the Internet Watch Foundation’s Finance and Audit Committee for the last six months. What does that role entail and why is the work of the IWF important to you?

After the NHS saved my daughter’s life, I was determined to give something back to the community and was searching for the right means to do that. I had heard about IWF as it’s a Cambridge-based organisation, originally founded by a Cambridge internet entrepreneur, but with a national remit and global reach. The Foundation works to identify and address instances of sexual abuse content. I wrote to the Chairman and CEO to offer my services and, after several months, the opportunity arose to support the Foundation’s work. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the IWF team.

It’s not your first trusteeship – how important is it to you to use your skills for good?

Looking back throughout my personal and professional life, I’ve always been trying to improve things for others. It’s a theme that I think runs through the institution that is the University of Cambridge and Cambridge Judge Business School – as participants and alumni we want to make an impact on the world and that impact should be a positive one. That’s why, when you put us all together in one place, such as on the EMBA, that’s exactly what we all go and do.

You’ve been in banking for a long time – how has the sector changed?

It’s transformed almost beyond recognition. In the distant past I remember what I can best describe as a “macho” culture; one where financial return too often trumped other considerations.

Ten years ago my organisation employed around 150,000 individuals, and now that’s much closer to 80,000. Last year I saw benchmarking study which identified our digital bank as a world leader, we’re now leading other industries from a diversity and inclusion perspective, and we’re now relentlessly focused on meeting the needs of our customers. We’re far from perfect, and we’ve got so much to do, but have made monumental strides in the right direction.

What was your motivation for taking an Executive MBA?

I’d been in banking a while and wanted to broaden my skill set, better understand the world, and discover what some of the best minds in business were doing, and how. I wanted to learn, test myself and surround myself with some of the most dynamic and interesting professionals out there. I wanted to understand myself better and become the version of myself that I could. The Cambridge Executive MBA helped me achieve those ambitions and so much more.

What are your biggest motivations in life?

Trying to make the world a better place, which is why I’ve been at Lloyds Banking Group for as long as I have. We’re the biggest Retail Bank in the UK, with close to 30 million customers, and I know that the progress we’re making an organisation will have a big positive impact on society.

What do you consider to be your proudest achievement?

My family. It’s the most important thing in my life, and for that reason balancing family, work and studying for an EMBA was arguably my toughest challenge. I’ll never forget one day complaining to an EMBA colleague and she said that what drives her is the knowledge that one day her EMBA and work will inspire her children. That really resonated with me and that longer-term perspective helped me thrive and embrace everything you can achieve during the EMBA.

What advice would you give to people considering applying for the Executive MBA programme coming from a similar background to yours?

When I was 18, I remember playing as my team’s captain during the semi-final of the English schools’ football tournament and the coach gave the most inspiring talk I’ve ever heard. He said:

“There are three types of people in life; those that never get opportunities, those that have opportunities but don’t take them, and those that have opportunities and take them”

We lost the semi-final, but this advice carried me through my career, completing the EMBA and now being awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Grab the opportunity as I’m almost certain you won’t regret it.