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"Don’t Be Scared. Take a Deep Breath and Dive Right in, You Won’t Regret It."; Karl's Advice on Starting a New Job

An interview with Karl Darby-Warner, Product Manager at Santander

Karl has been with Santander for eight months and officially worked in the office for two of those months. He is the Product Manager for Retailer Offers within the Banking Product Team.

How did you start your current career?

Truth be told I fell into Product. I started working full time when I was 18 as I was taking a gap year from Sixth Form to apply for drama school. I ended up getting used to working and then never applied. I worked my way up to different clothing brand companies where I ran very successful teams.  After 11 years I needed a change, so I applied for a telesales role with my previous employer and it all started from there. Within two years I was selling employee benefits and employee recognition programmes which set me up for a new venture within the organisation for an international role in marketing. From this, I built strong relationships with the Santander UK Product team as the programme I was working on tied in with them. This then lead to being headhunted and invited to apply for a role in their Product Marketing team and the rest as they say is history.

Can you tell us about your first day in your current role?

I’m not going to lie I was terrified to say the least. I had been in my last job and industry for about five years and was very comfortable in what I had to do day in, day out. I turned up with an astonishing amount of nerves building up and as I got closer to my desk, I literally felt like I’d made a mistake (my ever-present imposter syndrome kicked in full force). However, after meeting my team and being introduced to everyone I was immediately set at ease. Everyone made me feel so welcomed and helped me out if I looked a bit lost. These acts of kindness on my first day made me feel at ease and ready for whatever this role brings my way.

What were your expectations entering this role?

I honestly thought I was going to walk in and pick everything up so quickly and that it’ll be a doddle. How wrong I was, and that was a shock to the system. I didn’t know what to expect from the role as I was new to the banking industry and hadn’t set out any expectations of the role on myself… apart from thinking I’d pick it up in day. Ithas been a challenging eight months, including shifting to working from home due to Covid-19 for the past six months, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This role is fascinating and I look forward to how this role develops, and I develop with it!

What can organisations do to ensure new employees feel welcome when they start?

For me, the biggest part before I joined was doing my research on what employee networks were available and what charity stance Santander had, and I was thrilled to see a similar LGBTQ+ network which I could join and be apart of. I think I even joined on my first day (very keen lol).

I joined Embrace (Santander’s LGBT+ people network) to feel part of a community when I was new to the company, to find some common ground with likeminded people, something to find familiar and stable. I found that not only in the Embrace Network but also in the team I work in. In my previous role, I led Diversity and Inclusion workshops to all employees and was a supporting member of our LGBTQ+ Network and I wanted to continue my involvement in my new employer.  I was lucky enough to find Embrace and even luckier to be appointed Site Lead for Milton Keynes.

All organisations should promote the fantastic people networks that are on offer on their career sites for potential candidates to see and also promote them during induction to give employees the opportunity to meet like-minded colleagues from across their organisation.  For me, this was a lifesaver and something I needed when I started.

What advice would you give someone about to start a new job?

In a nutshell, go with the flow – it’s the best way forward. Don’t be scared of new challenges and new ways of working. It all builds your character and enables you to grow personally and professionally. Find a place of work that matches your personal ethics and you will thrive. Also, don’t be scared. Take a deep breath and dive right in, you won’t regret it.


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Marius Ciobanu

Great article, congratulations Karl!!!