Volunteer profile – Stephen Burgess, Investment Banking Finance Systems Manager at HSBC

Stephen Burgess is Investment Banking Finance Systems Manager at HSBC and a very active volunteer. Stephen is an east London resident who wanted to give back to the area in which he lives and works. Supported by his workplace, HSBC, Stephen has worked on various ELBA initiatives and does so in order to ‘help nurture talent, improve confidence, professional skills and share my career experiences and life skills.’ In testament to the enormous efforts Stephen has put into volunteering over the years,  he has recently won a nomination for an Unsung Hero Award at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant at Buckingham Palace! 

Why do you volunteer?
Primarily, I wanted to give back to the east London community where I live and work. ELBA reaches a cross-section of society and the programmes they offered allowed me to use and develop both my own professional and technical skills. I see change as starting with ‘me’, plus, my company HSBC, also actively encourage volunteering and this support was the catalyst to enrol on various ELBA initiatives. To date I have helped deliver seminars and workshops, and taken on Mentoring opportunities and CV support sessions. As I was born in southeast London, I know too well the disadvantages and lack of opportunities that exist for some cohorts and groups. We are magnets to help, to encourage others to develop and I see this as effectively ‘Passing on the Baton’ to the next generation. ELBA events are always well organised and supported, materials are interactive and flexible, and the audience is always enthusiastic and ready to learn and change. I see myself as the software to help nurture talent, improve confidence, professional skills and share my career experiences and life skills.

Aside from ELBA, I have also been able to take part in the Royal Voluntary Services’ Covid Vaccination programme in 2021 and, separately, The Princes’ Trust scheme, but it was because of the confidence I gained with ELBA that helped me open the door to these other great opportunities. To cap off my incredible few years of volunteering, I have also now just won a nomination for an Unsung Hero Award at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant at Buckingham Palace. ELBA’s support and access to programmes has led me on this incredible journey.

What have you gained from your volunteering experience?
My presenting skills have hugely improved. Delivering seminars and lectures, role-play examples and mentoring break-out groups has allowed me to learn and listen to the community needs, plus give immediate advice, support and encouragement to the students and participants. There are tangible outcomes throughout, and this gives both sides the instant sense of achievement. Whether doing these events on Zoom or in a classroom, the medium creates a chance for attendees to mix, challenge themselves and learn in a trusted group setting.

Secondly, I have met some amazing individuals and seen my mentee partners develop and progress. The rewards are often instant, real and personable. Assimilating life experiences, tackling mock scenarios and encouraging change has also allowed me to use some of these change techniques and skills in my own working environment and problem settings.

Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague and, if so, why?
100% without fail I would encourage everyone to consider volunteering and to get involved. Our professional and technical experiences are platforms to share transferable skills and volunteering is a lever to share them with a wider audience. ELBA have such a variety of opportunities and diverse programmes to match anyone’s skills and time availability. I always support my colleagues at HSBC to sign-up and enrol; often it only needs one-click or one check-in to start the journey. It can be as little as investing one hour, one lunchtime or one afternoon, and the ripple effect is enormous. The preparation time is often minimal, and thinking and learning on your feet is the best way to share experiences and adapt to the needs of the students.

Reading the feedback at the end of a session is very humbling and I know first-hand the change seen in the faces of the attendees from start to end. When they finish a module, assignment or task they have immediately added to their experiences, skill base and opportunity to change. I have also learnt a lot about the community where I live, the workings of a charity and the way that commercial and non-commercial organisations can work together to improve the ‘Brand: London’ of our people.

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