Val isn’t a chief executive, but having joined the organisation in 1962 as a junior clerk, she has the DNA of the business in her bones. Her career experiences over nearly half a century mirror many of the changes that have taken place during that time, both culturally and within the business. And after listening to Val, most of the changes seem to have been for the better.
True, back in 1962 the average house price was much lower than it is now at £2,790, but then so was the average annual wage at £799. But it is the culture of working in offices at the time that is the most fascinating thing from today’s perspective.
Val was one of 20 employees back then, most of whom were men. Women cashiers were unheard of and Val’s job as junior clerk included filling ink wells, changing blotting paper and making lots of tea and coffee – all for what would now be known as £3.25 a week.
“I was so young when I came for an interview that I was wearing my school uniform,” she recalls. “I took my mum for moral support.
“When I look back over the past 47 years I can identify three events that changed the face of banking forever – the introduction of decimal currency, the society’s first computer systems and the credit crunch.”
Val leaves the society as a computer control assistant but it is a sign of the deference with which we once treated our superiors that she still regards preparing and serving cups of tea and coffee at board meetings as one of her most stressful duties.
“I had to knock on the door at 3pm on the dot and always serve everyone from the right,” she recalls. “I used to be so nervous that I would regularly spill the drinks.”