My First Promotion
by Steve White
When I joined the Birmingham Municipal Bank in August 1971, there didn't appear to be a clear career structure, other than that when a vacancy occurred, it seemed that a list of when you joined the Bank was consulted and once you reached the top of that list you were the next person promoted.
So, when after three years working as a cashier at Pype Hayes and Castle Vale, a new role of supervisor was created and positions advertised, it provided a great opportunity for all us aspiring young Bank Managers to begin moving up the ladder. After previously applying for two of these positions without any success, I was delighted to receive a telephone call inviting me to attend Head Office for an interview, to be considered for one of the roles at Cotteridge or Harborne.
On the day of the interviews several candidates were being interviewed and following a grilling by the panel, Norman Goddard, John Ager and one other that I can't recall, we were asked to wait in the training room on the first floor of the old Head Office whilst the panel debated their decision and the successful candidates could be congratulated on their appointment.
Memories of the interview are a little sketchy, but I'll always remember one question about sending money abroad. Norman Goddard who was chairing the panel spent around five minutes posing the question whilst I sweated thinking I don't have clue how to answer this, ended by him saying, "I don't expect you to know the answer, but who in Head Office would you contact to find out what to do?" A little easier but still a question I didn't have the answer to, however help was at hand.
At the time, I was attending Matthew Boulton College to study for my bank exams and one of the tutors was John Ager. As many staff of this time will remember, John was like myself, a Birmingham City fan and was always a great help to a young member of staff looking to build a career with the Bank. Seeing my obvious difficulty in answering Norman's question, John lay back in his chair and casually raised his arm out of sight of Norman but clearly pointing direct to him.
At this point, I was able to confidently reply, "It wouldn't be you would it Mr Goddard" which was followed by a well done. With the knowledge that I now had a friend on the panel the rest of the interview went well and before long, I was being asked to step into the training room to await the outcome.
Luckily, there was only one candidate to be seen after me and the agonising wait would be over. So with breath held all four of the budding bankers froze when Norman entered the room. All he said was can I have Neil and Stephen and quickly turned around expecting the successful candidates to follow him back into the interview room, to be informed as to which branch they would be going to. At this point, Neil Maunde and another Stephen got up and followed Norman out of the room.
My initial disappointment at not being selected was very short lived as the other unfortunate Stephen quickly returned to the room and quietly said, "It's you they want".
This was the start of a very happy time at Harborne branch where great friends were made.