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Contributing to climate change project is career highlight for Law alumnus

Wojciech Babiarczuk

The placement year I spent at Shoosmiths equipped me with relevant skills that made the transition from university to professional working life really smooth. And because I had the opportunity to work at Brunel whilst studying, I developed many soft transferable skills too.

Wojciech, Alumni, Undergraduate

Risk Manager in Property Finance, Shawbrook Bank

Law LLB - 2016

From Poland

Which country do you currently live in?


Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

Having graduated from Brunel, I joined Shawbrook Bank in the Commercial Property division. I had the opportunity to become a Mandated Mortgage Underwriter with credit decision discretion up to £250k. I interacted with brokers, solicitors and property surveyors. I also studied towards my Professional Banker Certificate. After two years, I moved to a Risk Management function and I became responsible for lending policy governance, risk agenda planning, front and back-book risk analysis. I also got involved with the climate change project and am currently working on analysing climate risks to the Bank's portfolio as well as developing a path to a net-zero carbon economy.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

My typical day starts with the review of news - looking out for regional house price trends, regulatory changes and competitor horizon scanning. If anything is relevant, I need to consider what risks this may pose to our book and whether it impacts any of the Bank’s policies and our risk appetite. I am also the point of contact for all enquiries from the lending teams on interpreting the Bank’s criteria for new loans and I assist with more tricky applications, weighing up potential risks. I also represent my team and the division at various cross-functional working groups and committees.

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

It will have to be my work on the climate change project. Having passed the Chartered Banker’s Institute Green Finance course, I received the title of Green Finance Professional. I am the lead for the Property Division on the climate change front and I contributed to the climate change plan submitted to the PRA. As part of the embedding of the climate change plan, I was able to influence our risk appetite to expand to sustainable methods of construction and improve our data capabilities in terms of capturing flood and subsidence risks and assessing the energy efficiency of our securities.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

My Brunel experience has definitely helped me to get where I am today. The Law degree turned out to be a lot more relevant to banking and risk than I had anticipated. Land Law, Company Law and Banking Law modules provided me with solid foundations to succeed in the financial services industry. The placement year I spent at Shoosmiths equipped me with relevant skills that made the transition from university to professional working life really smooth. And because I had the opportunity to work at Brunel whilst studying, I developed many soft transferable skills too.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

The main reason why I decided to study at Brunel was because of the thick sandwich course structure. Back in 2012 there were only a handful of universities in the UK offering a Law degree with a placement, and there were none in London, so Brunel seemed like the perfect fit. I would also recommend Brunel for its campus and friendly, almost a small village-like, atmosphere. Living on campus was extremely convenient, accommodation being only minutes away from the Library, Lecture Centre, Sports Centre, and of course the Students’ Union bar!

What is your best memory of studying here?

It’s not a single memory as such but rather the opportunities I had to be able to work whilst studying. Having moved to the UK from Poland just before uni, I was not eligible for a [Student Finance] maintenance loan and so being able to earn money in a way that fitted around my studies was essential. I was so fortunate to have met Lesley Warren and join the STEM Ambassador programme where we delivered regular workshops to school students and encouraged them to consider careers in STEM. I also worked as a Student Recruitment Ambassador and Residences Mentor and got to know the University from a completely different side that many students never get to see.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

Stop comparing yourself to others, we all run our individual races. Has someone else already got the placement, finished their dissertation, secured that dream graduate role and you haven’t? This does not mean that you are behind or that you’re in any way worse. Sometimes we need to wait for that perfect opportunity a bit longer but eventually you’ll find it, just keep going! And don’t trust everything others post on social media; they may try to create an illusion of being happier and more successful than they really are. Being yourself and learning to be comfortable with who you are can really help boost self-esteem.

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

Remain open minded and consider new opportunities. We’re living in such a fast-changing world. Being vigilant and adaptable are probably two key skills all professionals should possess in order to be successful. Horizon scanning, identifying new risks and spotting niche opportunities can future-proof your career.