Valentine’s Day at Barclaycard Payments: Fiona and Karl
Valentine’s Day 2021 - love is the air and many are looking forward to the big day. Although, of course, this year our plans all look remarkably similar. But when you work with your significant other, is every day like Valentine’s Day?
To tell us more, ahead of this Valentine’s Day we caught up with three Barclays power couples. Meet Fiona and Karl, from Hampshire …
How did you meet?
Fiona: We became friends first through a mutual friend, but it was actually Facebook that brought us together – a random comment on a New Year’s Eve post back in 2011 reignited a conversation about meeting up for a drink and we just got on so well … the rest is history. The power of social media!
Karl: Clearly, I must have impressed her with something as we have been together almost nine years, married five!
Do your roles mean you ever work closely together?
Fiona: Luckily, we work in different areas of the business! I’m a Commercial Manager in the Business Payments Acquisition team and Karl is a Security Operations Team Leader. To start with, we both worked out of the Fleet office so would see each other all day, every day, but I’ve since moved roles, and pre-COVID I worked either from home or the Northampton Campus, so we rarely saw each other in person at work.
Karl: Now, we are both working remotely from home so we work much more closely together – we do sit in two different rooms in the same house though!
What’s the best thing about working together?
Fiona: When we did work in the same office it was nice to be able to commute to work together and occasionally meet for lunch. There were times when I might have been too busy to take a lunch break and he’d head to the coffee shop across the road and bring me my favourite sandwich which was cute. I’m sure he’ll probably say I should have made him more tea! Nowadays, what is nice is being able to talk about work and have the other person understand.
Karl: I think that we both understand the business and get the shared culture, which makes it easier to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities. We also know a lot of the same people at work and our relationship is almost a shared Barclays experience.
What’s the worst thing about working together?
Fiona: The novelty of working in the same office together did wear off quickly, especially when a desk shuffle meant we ended up sitting opposite each other temporarily. I love him but 24 hours a day together isn’t healthy for anyone! It can also be hard to switch off and keep our work and personal lives separate – particularly as we’ve been working from home together since early 2020.
Karl: Unfortunately, she can see my work Skype status and always knows when I am available! In all seriousness, it can feel like there are no boundaries between our work and home lives, so we often have to remind ourselves to change the subject.
What do your families think about you working together?
Fiona: Our children are two and four - I don’t think they really understand that we work at the same place, or if they do, they probably just think that’s normal! Our wider family appreciates that it has its pros and cons…
Karl: We’ve brought the kids into the Fleet office a few times, and our eldest, especially, thinks it’s an amazing experience. I think she thinks that I spend all day in the office having fun, drinking hot chocolate and eating sweets… She’s asked a few times if she can come into work with mummy and daddy, so obviously she thinks it’s great!
What do your colleagues think about working with a couple?
Fiona: Given we work in different areas of the business now; it actually doesn’t come up that often anymore. It was strange when we worked in the same office and turned up at the Christmas party together – I’d been on maternity leave for the 12 months leading up to it and some newer colleagues just thought he’d brought a random plus one – having not yet figured out that I was there as a colleague too!
Karl: It’s a strange one; most of them know Fi and are almost like mutual friends. They take an interest in how she and our children are. It’s sweet really – and makes work colleagues and friends feel more like family.
How do you normally celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Fiona: Gone are the pre-children days where he took me to Paris to celebrate! Now we settle for a cosy night in - he usually cooks something special and gets some flowers.
Karl: Children make it tricky, but we do try to make it a night just to relax and focus on each other.
Are you planning anything special this year?
Fiona: I think this year will be the least celebrated Valentine’s day in history for us – it’ll be another lockdown night in, but I’m sure he’ll find a way to make it special and different to every other Groundhog Day at the moment (hint hint).
Karl: I’ll try and cook something a little different and special.
How has the pandemic impacted your working lives, such as working from home? What has proven the biggest challenge?
Karl: Work have been great with us and colleagues have been really flexible - many a work meeting has been gate-crashed by our children! It’s been hard to fully concentrate and put my full attention into work at times with everything going on at home, missing my colleagues and the working office interactions - those are the biggest challenges for me.
Fiona: We’ve been very lucky to work for an organisation that is so in favour of dynamic working – we already had a home office set up with all the equipment we need. The biggest challenge for me has been juggling work and parenting – many months of the kids being home with both of us working full time continues to be a massive challenge and one where I’ve felt at time that I wasn’t doing either job very well. Barclays has been amazing throughout – encouraging us to put family and our safety and wellbeing first and supporting us to find a ‘new norm’ that worked both professionally and personally. I’m definitely making him tea and lunch more than I would have in the office! He shouldn’t get too used to that…
What makes your partner so special?
Fiona: This is going to sound SO cheesy, so I apologise now… But I think it’s that he chose me to spend the rest of his life with – I think that’s pretty special.
Karl: She makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. She makes me a better person.
We loved hearing from Fiona and Karl. Stay tuned to hear from our two other Barclaycard Payments power couples…