Sarah Offland

Relationship Director

Industry experts

I joined Barclays at 18 having just completed “A” levels, and suffice to say my main responsibility at this point was making the tea and then moving on to balancing the books with ink and a quill! I then worked my way through a very traditional banking route, becoming a Relationship Director, specialising in the Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics sector, in the Black Country some 13 years ago. 

Strangest place for a client meeting?

Probably in the cab of a locomotive engine. One of my previous clients ran a very successful rail freight & logistics business travelling the length and breadth of the country delivering a range of products to many different industries. A fascinating business and sector.

Tell us about a time you’ve helped your client with something beyond banking?

As a Manufacturing RD I have for the last 3 years led on a local manufacturing partnership in conjunction with the local Chamber of Commerce. As a group we seek to bring purely manufacturers together in the county to network, learn from each other and most enjoyably benefit from site visits. It has given manufacturers an opportunity to look around some great factories such as the state of the art JLR site at I54, Caterpillar, Stadco and many more local manufacturers.

Along a similar theme, I have for the last 4 years judged the best manufacturing award at the Shropshire Business Awards. This gives Manufacturers of all sizes the opportunity to really promote their business and gives such satisfaction to just be nominated and celebrate local business success. 

What is the most exciting thing happening in your client's industry?

There are many challenges facing Manufacturing & Transport right now, including Brexit, the skills gap and increased regulation to reduce waste (especially in plastics). But in terms of exciting, I would say that for Manufacturers it is innovation and increased robotics. They can really transform a factory floor, moving many industries from the old view of a slightly grubby workshop feel to a pristine formula 1 style workspace. The changing face of manufacturing opens up new job opportunities requiring different skills.

Alongside this I have seen manufacturers taking control of their skills gap issue promoting and recruiting more apprentices with the traditional and modern skills needed to run a manufacturing business in the 21st century. In Shropshire manufacturers have gone one step further and created their own training centre which delivers the specific skills required to support local businesses.

If you didn’t work for Barclays, what would you be doing?

An interesting question – I think probably something in fashion. There are clearly days when there are many internal and external frustrations at Barclays but the reward comes from both working with great colleagues and also from meeting and learning about some fascinating UK businesses, which is definitely the best part of the job.

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