The Story of Chez 👋🏼

When I left college, I didn’t have any particular career in mind. There was only one thing I was certain about and that was that I didn’t want to go to university (I know, I know… my college tutor hated me! 😬 ). But I was working in Boots at the time, a typical Saturday job, and I was seeing so many university students starting their Christmas jobs and, in chatting to them I realised that 90% of them still didn’t have a clue what career they wanted to go into! Which, personally, just seemed like a lot of money spent to be in the same position I was (but hey that’s just my opinion).

As you can imagine, at some point I had to get a full-time job (how rude) which is when I moved to BT (Orange at the time, let’s see who remembers that… 👀). Typical call centre staff, still just going to work to have a laugh rather than being focused on where it’ll take me. Eventually, somewhere along the road, I realised I had the potential to be more than the job gave me credit for.  But, I also realised I didn’t want to be part of a corporate cog anymore.

After 5 loyal years and A LOT of business changes, I decided to take the plunge and move on. I wanted to move into something more for an administrative role, which I’d only had a taste of at BT. So, I ended up at Capita (I know I know another corporate name… 🙄 ) where I trained in their annuity department. My first insight into the world of finance! And my first role which really lit a fire under my belly! I was only at Capita for a very short time but I picked up the role very quickly, fully trained another successful member of the team along with suggesting several other improvements that could be made across the department. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that the type of change I was expecting to see and hoping to contribute to just wasn’t possible in another corporate business, so I started applying elsewhere.

Cue my interview with Verve (then Para-Sols) featuring a young 24-year-old Chez bursting with ideas and desperate to make a difference and then, Para-Sols receptive and looking to embrace a change with open arms.

I started at Para-Sols as an administrator, with the premise of moving to head up the department once I’d got up to speed. I quickly found a love of all things finance, and being able to spend most of my time in a spreadsheet was the dream! In hindsight, I was so glad that I’d been able to take on the finance world via an outsourced business like Para-Sols because it meant I was able to experience a variety of advice, providers, and adviser requirements. I just would not have had the same level of exposure if I’d gone straight into an IFA office.

Soon after joining, we took on a round of graduates whom I helped train and support on their journey into finance. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to pass my knowledge on to others, but I think I enjoyed working with such curious minds more any anything else. There were constant questions (which we promote extensively at Verve) and understandably, some of which I didn’t have the answer to. So, I think being able to work with the grads from the outset led me to ask more questions myself, which led me to become more experienced in my role.

During my time as Head of Administration, I helped grow and manage a team of 6/7. Along with continuing to introduce future paraplanning/compliance graduates to the fundamentals of finance. I also worked on improving processes with the focus of ensuring we were working to peak efficiency from administration to paraplanning. It was around this time that I won my first award – The Professional Paraplanner Administrator of the Year award. One of my greatest achievements whilst being with Verve. It really cemented everything I’d been working towards and gave me a new drive to progress further.

Off the back of focusing on the efficiencies, I’d begun working more and more with Jo (our Chief Operations Officer) along with the paraplanning team. My way of communicating with the paraplanners, my administrative experience, and my eagerness to get everything running like a well-oiled machine meant I was perfect for my next role – Operations Coordinator. I continued supporting and managing cross-functional teams and working with Jo to ensure targets were met and SLAs were kept to. Regularly introducing new spreadsheets (I never lost the passion 🤭 ) to help track and manage various areas of the department.

I guess what led me into my final and current role is my constant need to question what we did and understand the why. By this time, we’d started Apricity and had a shiny new piece of tech that helped support the compliance services Apricity provided. The compliance side of things wasn’t something I knew much about, but I was keen to learn, and I wanted to understand how the introduction of tech could help us deliver an industry-leading service to advisers.

I started to get more and more involved in the Apricity system, quality-checking the releases our development team were working on. Everything we were working towards and hearing all the future ideas got me so excited! I could see the vision and I could see what a difference it could make to the industry, our clients and our staff. So of course, I was hooked! Insert Chez now becoming a Product Manager. The Apricity system became my baby, working with Cathi’s (Verve’s CEO and Founder) vision and translating that to the developers. Understanding a whole other world of user stories, UX and DevOps.

Fast forward a few years and, of course, I ended up falling in love with the tech world! I’m still enraptured by my hybrid role which allows me to embrace my love of finance and tech and I now have a second baby (fun fact I’ve had an actual baby since being at Verve 🍼 ) – Dextera! Which has taken over from all our existing tech and is the first piece of tech of its kind in the finance industry… gush!

I never for a second thought I would end up in a tech role. I always saw myself as more operations than anything else, process-driven and striving for efficiency. But, that being said, a Product Manager role is very much about coordinating cross-functional teams, being able to translate a vision into ‘tech talk’ and most of all, being passionate about your product. Which I’d like to say I get a big fat tick for!

8 years makes for a lot of memorable moments and if I was going to pick a moment that I feel like set me up for what was to come from Verve it would be my first day. I know it’s cliche but honestly, on my first day at Verve (then Para-Sols) our day consisted of moving into a bigger office because we could no longer fit everyone in! And since that day Para-Sols, Apricity, The Verve Group, The Grad Scheme… whatever name you give it has consistently moved on to bigger and better things. Always pushing the boundaries and never settling. I’m proud to be a part of a business that strives for more.

The proof is in the pudding. Look at me… no degree, yet there have been no limitations put in place against me. It’s been years of open and honest conversations about what I want my career to look like and what The Verve Group can do to support me in getting there. The Verve Group takes the person for who they are and what they can bring to the business, not what their degree is or isn’t.


Chez Lunn, Product Manager

The Grad Scheme

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