Will Wright

Will Wright

Chief Operating Officer at Santander International

Santander International
Santander International’s Chief Operating Officer says banks have little option but to press ahead with ambitious digital transformation programmes

Will Wright freely admits it was not necessarily his plan to work in financial services. 

But at university, while undertaking a degree in physiology and sports science, Wright discovered he had an aptitude for building software and landed himself a technology position with a UK-based insurance provider. 

After learning the ropes at various finance firms, he moved to the Channel Island of Jersey to set up an office for a fund management business, before being appointed COO at Santander International in 2019. 

“Coming to Jersey has given me experience in working with quite a different banking industry compared to what I’d experienced in the UK,” says Wright. “That includes the unique customer base, the scale, the boutique nature of banking out here and also the unique technology and operational challenges. 

“So, when I had the opportunity to join Santander, a globally-renowned bank with a very focused entity in the form of Santander International, it was something I was very keen on.”

Embracing evolution

Throughout his career, Wright has always prioritised finding or building a talented team with whom it is enjoyable to work alongside. 

At Santander International, he found a vibrant culture and a diverse mix of people bringing numerous different perspectives to the table. 

“The executive and the senior leadership team are all very experienced – all pretty ambitious individuals,” adds Wright. “And there is a joined-up vision, which is all-important for making things fun and making things work.”

Banking is, of course, a rapidly evolving industry, where new technologies, competitors and regulations are always around the next corner. 

Wright’s attitude, however, is to embrace this unpredictability with open arms.

“Challenger banks and fintechs – even in the market we're in out here – are constantly keeping us on our toes,” Wright explains. 

“Ultimately, they’re giving customers more choice in the types of banking services they want, so we have to stay informed. It’s that constant evolution that I really enjoy.”

Pushing ahead with transformation

Wright was initially hired by Santander International to steer digital transformation with ambitious growth plans.

He recognised from day one how tough it would be to instigate meaningful change but also emphasised that standing still simply wasn’t an option given the increasingly competitive market. 

“In most industries these days, you’ve got to push ahead,” continues Wright. “Probably the biggest challenge I've had is overcoming that natural inertia when you join a business that hasn't had to change for a while. 

“You can have the best technical plan in the world but, if you can't get the business buy-in, ultimately you’re going to fail.

“We’ve got plenty of catching up to do to meet our customers’ expectations, so we don't have the luxury of being able to move slowly.”

Keep asking questions

The key to progressing within your industry or career of choice, Wright insists, is to never be afraid to ask questions.

It’s a piece of advice he received early in his own career and it has certainly served him well. “When most people start their careers, they have that fear of appearing stupid by asking questions,” Wright concludes. 

“For development in your career, being naturally inquisitive is a massive advantage. Most people love being given the spotlight and talking around their areas of expertise, so finding that expert and asking them all the questions you can is normally a win-win situation.”

Read the full story HERE.


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